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Amy Ward has a knack for helping people. In fact, it was because she was helping a friend that she stumbled into a career in radiology technology. She's been helping people ever since.
She's a CT technologist, meaning she works in computerized tomography, a speciality of radiology technology. The 53-year-old works at St. Augustine Imaging Center, an affiliate of Radiology Associates Imaging.
Why did you get into this line of work?
I like people. I’m a people person and a natural caregiver. How I became a radiology technician, though, is a funny story. My best friend in high school was interested in radiology technology. I went with her to an interview at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. She was trying to get into the training program. I just went for support. But I was the one who fell in love with the program! She dropped out. It was a 24-month straight course and I applied right out of high school. After I completed the program, I got my degree and started working. It’s perfect for people who don’t want to invest in a four-year college.
Did you always want to do this?
I didn’t know I wanted to do it until I went with my friend. I’m still in the profession 30 years later, so I must like it.
What does a typical day look like?
When I started my career I worked as a radiology technician in a hospital from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. I also had to work holidays and be on call for emergencies. But now I work at an outpatient center. My hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. I have patients scheduled for scans starting at 8 a.m. I take an hour for lunch and then I have patients scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. We don’t take appointments after 4:30, so I have time to straighten up and go home.
What do you like most about your job?
The people I work with — patients, doctors, radiologists and my other other coworkers.
I get a lump in my throat when I see something bad in a scan. Bad news still gets me.
What’s the most common misconception about your job?
That I read the scans — that I am the doctor. I help the doctor take pictures so he can do a correct diagnosis. I don’t diagnose.
What do you wish you knew about the job before you got into it?
I don’t like needles, and I have to stick people for IVs.
What personality traits or qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
You have to like people. If you don’t like people, this is not the job for you. And you have to have patience to work with patients who are scared and hurting.
Can you describe one particular moment or day on the job that gave you real satisfaction?
The appreciation from my patients gives me satisfaction every day. That’s what drives me. It comes naturally to me, but I appreciate when patients or their relatives thank me for being compassionate and caring. I have some patients who won’t even schedule an appointment if they know I won’t be here. That says a lot.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I’m going to do this for 10 more years, retire and then be an awesome grandma when my kids are ready to have children.