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Interview with Cathy Ball, Past Board Member of the West Virginia Society of Radiologic Technologists

Cathy Ball, MS, RT, (R) (M) (ARRT) previously served as the Education Representative of the Board of Directors for the West Virginia Society of Radiologic Technologists. Cathy Ball’s commitment to education is underscored in her interview with us recently. She is passionate about advocating for her profession and is loyal to continuing education in the field of radiology and imagery.

What event or series of events led you to pursue the field of radiology as your professional choice? Please elaborate.

Many years ago, my Grandfather developed bladder cancer and was treated with radon seeds (1960s). He was a wonderful Irishman with a great outlook on life and followed the mantra of not taking life too seriously. During his illness, he told me the “little x-ray girls were cute and all they did was push buttons.” In addition, my mother was a nurse, so I had “grown up” around medicine, but did not realize what the techs truly accomplished in their profession. My curiosity was peaked and I began to research the profession.

I soon came to realize many people thought x-ray “technicians” only pushed buttons. The next realization was that when a person makes a job look easy – like pushing a button – it is typically because the person is skilled at his/her craft! Being the “eyes” into the human body fascinated me and I developed a passion for the patient and imaging immediately!!!

Name 1 or 2 guidelines you would offer the radiology professional just entering the field?

Listen to and respect your patient – much good can be accomplished and harm can be avoided by doing so.

Remember: Each patient is unique; therefore, every body part is unique – never become complacent.

How would you advise an individual entering the radiology professions to proceed?

Proceed with a quest for knowledge – keep your ears open – listen to your instructors, technologists, and patients.

What are the challenges, or obstacles that may be faced?

Challenges: Conflicting information – such as what the textbook stated as opposed to what the instructor or technologist might say. Listen and understand the presented information – then continue to read and research. Ask questions and keep an open mind.

Never stop learning in this fast paced and ever changing/challenging profession…..

Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?

Most recently I am co-chairing the WVSRT annual conference. My main focus has been on providing quality guest speakers and topics for the attendees. Communication with my co-chair has been a challenge, as we are separated by 110 miles. Therefore, via the phone, internet and text we have managed to organize all project details. We have learned personal and professional information by focusing on being a team and working toward a common goal. It can be challenging in today’s financial world, to bring techs and students together, since CEs are available with the click of a button. Advocating for networking and face to face contact is essential to the profession and the education of each tech.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? Name 1 or 2 guidelines you would offer the radiology professional just entering the field?

Best advice I ever received: Keep your mouth shut and your ears open!!!

Guidelines: It is ok to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it and not make the same mistake again.

Embrace change and grow with it!!!

If you are told: this is the way it is done – investigate why???

As an experienced professional in the radiology profession what role do you feel advanced technology is playing and what other advances do you foresee?

Space exploration provided us with many advances in the imaging fields (MR., PET etc.) The advances have provided new avenues to pursue in aiding diagnosis and treatment of disease. Molecular imaging and investigation into DNA links to disease and hopefully treatment are sure to provide new insights.

The world of imaging is ever changing and gathering the knowledge to keep up with the changes is the responsibility of each individual – being proactive is key. Unfortunately, demand is increasing, new methods and imaging techniques are increasing, but finances are diminishing. This is a very challenging realization.

What is the key strength you bring to your career and how would you advise radiology professionals to mine their own strengths to further their careers.

Strength: The realization that I have the ability to create energy, dispense that energy into human tissue and create a diagnostic image. This is a very daunting responsibility for which I have respect and pride.

It is imperative to know that with every benefit of radiation there is a risk. Even an uncomplicated procedure has the possibility of causing damage. All persons who are responsible for “pushing the button” must know how photons are created, what potential the photon has and how to decrease the risk of adverse effects. It is not acceptable to “train” someone to select a button with a body part on it and use a technique that “works for everyone.” As a professional, education is key – education of you, the patient, fellow techs and students.

Advice: Give of your time without expecting something in return. The profession is a “caring” profession, therefore to mine your strengths you must be honest, inquisitive, demonstrate initiative and give an honest days work.

At the end of each day, ask what you could have done better.

We extend our thanks to Cathy Ball for sharing her experiences and advice for new radiologic technologists. You can learn more on the West Virginia Society of Radiologic Technologists website.