Interview with Miranda Lester, Tennessee Radiologic Technologist

    At the time of this interview, Miranda Lester was secretary of the Tennessee Society of Radiologic Technologists. Lester’s professional journey began as a very young person. As she reveals in her interview, she always knew she “wanted to be in the medical field.” For the past twelve years, Miranda Lester has practiced in the field of radiology, and her early experience helped to get her on the right track.

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

    miranda-lesterI always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field and help people as a child. In high school, I loved biology/anatomy. Dissecting in biology helped me to finalize my career choice. Also in high school, we had a club called Medical Explorers. It allowed us to “shadow” different occupations in the local community hospital to help us decide which field of medicine we might want to choose. I did “shadow” every occupation that was allowed (respiratory, lab tech, surgery, etc.) and the one field I “shadowed” more than once was Radiology. The part that intrigued me the most was how hands on the technologists were with helping to diagnose the patient. I knew I wanted to help patients by doing exams to diagnose them and get them on the pathway to recovery.

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

    The guidelines I would suggest is to definitely get some observation time in so you can make sure Radiology/Diagnostic Imaging is the occupation for you. I think observing is the best way to understand the field and get some hands-on experience. Jumping into a field you know nothing about or have a passion for, could make it harder to learn. The second guideline I would suggest is to ask lots of questions to your educators and technologists. No question is stupid and you don’t know until you ask. Your educators and technologists hold a lot of information, so ASK!

    How would you advise an individual entering the radiology professions to proceed? What are the challenges or obstacles that may be faced?

    I think the biggest challenge is confidence. When you start school and clinic, so much information is given to you, it is a little overwhelming. You want to make the patient’s images the best possible. Having the confidence to go in there and just do it makes a difference.

    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?

    Working in fluoroscopy one day, I had a female patient who was geriatric and had a scheduled barium enema. She was so scared and the ordering physician had not explained the exam to the patient. I explained the exam to her, answered all her questions, tried to make her as comfortable as possible, and finished the exam as quickly as I could. With it not being the most pleasant exam, she thanked me when we were finished. She was so grateful that someone was there with her, took the time to help her on the exam table, and explained each step as the exam was being completed. A couple of weeks later, she sent me a Thank You card to my work. That really made my day to know I made such a difference, and she still remembered her positive experience a couple of weeks later.

    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?

    The best career advice I ever received was to listen and learn from your experienced technologists. The books educate you on the “perfect patient” but the experienced technologists can show and teach you things that are not always in the book (certain techniques, thinking outside the box positioning, chart reading for medical terminology, etc.). Working as a student technologist was the best career move for me. I learned more working on evening shift with technologists who had been doing Radiology and trauma for a while. They taught me so much, and I don’t believe I would know what I know now if it wasn’t for them.

    As an experienced professional, what role do you feel advanced technology is playing and what other advances do you foresee?

    I have been a technologist for 12 years. So much has changed in that amount of time. I have had to learn all the new advancements to the field that were not in my books when I was in school. I thought, Wow, look how far they have come with all the technology! Now, it’s so much more than what I expected. CR and DR imaging have made a big difference in how quickly we can complete the patient’s exam and get instant images. Also, working at a level one trauma center, we have the privilege to have digital portables. We have instant access to images for our patients. It helps provide the patient with a quicker diagnosis, which leads to quicker treatment. What new advancements might happen, I have no idea, but can’t wait to utilize them and provide better and quicker patient care for our patients.

    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.

    My key strength is flexibility. I can be where ever I am needed. Be diverse. Know as much as you can know about all the imaging modalities. To be a good and knowledgeable radiologic technologist, I think it is very important to know as much information about other imaging in radiology.

    We extend our thanks to Miranda Lester for sharing her career path and insights for our readers. You can learn more about Miranda on LinkedIn.