Medical Imaging Technology Externships Expand Oregon Tech Students’ Career Potential

by Ashley VanEssen | Mar 24, 2017
Organized by MIT faculty, a forum was an opportunity for students to learn more about what employers are looking for, and just as importantly, what they can expect from externships

After attending a healthcare-focused career fair on Monday, March 13, Oregon Tech alumni from the Medical Imaging Technology (MIT) program who work at Renown Health and Providence Health & Services, along with other representatives from those organizations, held a special forum for MIT students. Organized by MIT faculty, the forum was an opportunity for students to learn more about what employers are looking for, and just as importantly, what they can expect from externships.

Tim Blakely, Director of Imaging at Renown, which is the largest not-for-profit hospital in Northern Nevada, shared, “We’ve found that the students from Oregon Tech are superior and better prepared…there was something different about them.”

Blakely first initiated contact with Oregon Tech to begin externships after visiting the university and interacting with faculty who genuinely cared about making the partnership happen. This started what he calls a “very focused, purposeful relationship.” The first externship began in ultrasound, and has now expanded to externs in echocardiography, vascular technology, diagnostic medical sonography (ultrasound), nuclear medicine, and radiologic science. Upon completion of their 11-month externship, he has found that nearly 80% accept positions at the hospital.

Anna Masters, a 2011 Oregon Tech graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Vascular Technology, is currently an Imaging Supervisor at Renown Healthcare in Reno, Nevada. She began at Renown as a vascular extern and was hired as an echocardiography technician immediately upon graduation; she currently supervises nearly 40 employees. “Oregon Tech prepared me so well for vascular that I was able to learn echocardiography faster,” said Masters. “We spent much more time with anatomy and physiology preparing for our careers.”

“Have as many tools as possible in your tool belt to offer,” Oregon Tech Associate Professor and Program Director Rick Hoylman shared at the forum. “The more skillsets you have, the more potential you have to offer an employer.”

A 2006 graduate of Oregon Tech’s Nuclear Medicine Technology program, Ryan Hutchinson is currently Director of Diagnostic Imaging, Breast Center & Radiation Oncology at Providence Medford Medical Center. He shared advice with students on what they should be doing now to prepare for externships and careers: “Understand the organization of healthcare and what’s impacting the higher levels and the choices they make. Keep looking at where healthcare is going and how it works as a whole.” He stressed that businesses can usually train anybody, what they are looking for is someone who is the right fit for their organization.

Building connections throughout your schooling and externship was a point that representatives from Renown, Providence, and Oregon Tech reiterated. “The more you connect with people in a positive way, the more you’re developing a reputation for yourself—and healthcare is a small world,” said Professor Hoylman.

“Treat your externship as an interview,” said 2016 Oregon Tech graduate Katherine Collard. Collard graduated from Radiologic Science, but like her coworker Masters, she switched to a different focus area and was hired 9 months into her 11-month externship as an Interventional Technician for the cardiac cath lab. Masters also echoed the importance of externship attitudes: “Look at it as a year-long interview. You’re already prepared knowledge-wise, they need to know how you’d be as an employee and they are also exposing you to the disease/pathology you learned about.”

Renown and Providence representatives said that Oregon Tech students catch their eye every time and they’ve had great experiences with the caliber of students who graduate from the university. Blakely even has a daughter who chose to enroll in Oregon Tech and is currently in the vascular program.

Oregon Tech’s medical imaging programs use a variety of clinical extern sites that are determined by each program within the department. Lisa Steinbock, Clinical Coordinator for Oregon Tech’s Radiologic Science program (RDSC), says that RDSC itself has 33 clinical externship sites hosting one or more of Oregon Tech’s upcoming RDSC senior extern students. Each of the other four MIT programs (Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Nuclear Medicine, Vascular and Echocardiography) coordinate their own additional externships. For more information about Oregon Tech’s Medical Imaging Technology programs, visit www.oit.edu/academics/health-arts-sciences/medical-imaging-technology.
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