Q&A with Allan L. Reed, Basic X-ray Technician Program Director
Allan L. Reed, RTR/CRT, Basic X-ray Technician Program Director at Lincoln Technical Institute in Fern Park, Florida, is focusing on providing an interesting, well-rounded education for his students. He graduated in 1962 from Georgetown University Medical Center and received his RT the same year. After working in several hospitals and clinics in the Washington, D.C. area, Allan went to work for a commercial X-ray equipment manufacturing company and attended most of the various manufacturers educational programs that were offered. He is certified by the state of Florida as a General Radiographer.
Q: Who motivated you to become a radiology professional?
A: I had a friend that was an RT. He was constantly talking about his work and arranged a visit to the hospital where I was able to shadow him and see exams. I watched an early arteriogram being done on a cadaver way before it was attempted on a living human. I was hooked after that and applied and was accepted at the school.
Q: What kind of facility is Lincoln Technical Institute? What’s it like working at an educational facility?
A: Lincoln Technical Institute is part of a multi-campus career college institution providing a post-secondary education in many of the medical modalities.
Working in a educational facility is an incredible experience. My students spend 12 weeks in Anatomy & Physiology as well as 12 weeks of medical assisting before they start X-ray, where we provide 18 weeks of classroom and laboratory instruction taking images of radiographic phantoms. This is followed by another six weeks of externship doing clinical work under the supervision of certified technologists.
This definitely keeps me on my toes making my job extremely rewarding, as well as knowing that I’m a member of a team of dedicated professionals preparing people for rewarding careers.
Q: When and how did you start?
A: Before I retired from a commercial business, I had been teaching part-time in the evenings for several years. I had worked with many limited technicians from many different schools, realizing that most were not being taught everything necessary to properly dispense radiation safely and efficiently.
Lincoln offered me a position allowing me to strive to produce the most knowledgeable limited X-ray technicians possible, which provides skilled personnel for the many ‘doc-in-the-box’ type practices we have here in Florida.
Q: What is your day like at Lincoln Tech?
A: My day is filled with hands on demonstrations of and lectures about today’s imaging equipment and the many vintage and antique items I have collected during the past 49-and-a-half years that are on display in my classroom. I spend five to six hours a day in the classroom and the X-ray lab, followed by two to three hours every other day with the students that are working at clinical sites.
Q: What types of patients/diagnoses do you encounter most frequently?
A: Since we’re in Florida and a large majority of patients are geriatric, when I’m out with my extern students doing clinicals, we mostly see routine chest and abdomen, along with the many fractures that are ever present in a large tourist area like central Florida.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Since I’m about to turn 70, I limit myself to the many educational programs Lincoln Tech provides for employees. This allows me to take in-house training courses helping me become a better instructor, so I can help my students learn and pass the ARRT Limited X-ray Examination given by the State of Florida.
Q: What do you like most about your job and working with students?
A: I enjoy having a full energized X-ray lab and darkroom, which allows my students to take images of phantoms, repeating them as many times as necessary until they are confident and ready for the real thing.
Q: Do you feel that the role of radiology professionals has changed over recent years?
A: Yes, it certainly has. With the introduction of auto processing, image intensifiers, rare earth intensifying screens, digital imaging, etc., our role is one of constant education, so we can try and keep up with the technological improvements that are happening daily in our industry.
Q: What do you feel is of the greatest concern to radiology professionals today?
A: I’m not sure there is only one great concern since our profession branches out in so many different directions, but I would think unnecessary radiation by technicians not paying attention or allowing poorly trained people to dispense radiation is still a major concern in some areas.
Even with the best training, medical professionals in today’s world are rushing to produce more patient throughput. I believe speed is necessary, but I emphasize to my students that accuracy is more important and contributes to a diagnostic image instead of a repeat that most of the time was unnecessary.
Q: Is it rewarding to work with students?
A: It is rewarding when a student finishes our program and becomes certified by the State of Florida and begins looking for a job. I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I had something to do with helping that student get to that point in life.
Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned over the course of your career?
A: When I was attending Georgetown, the Director of the Radiology Dept. was a radiologist named Professor Willie Baensch, MD. He was a young man who worked as an errand boy for Wilhelm Roentgen in his lab. He would always remark how the extremely difficult patients made X-ray technicians utilize everything they were taught in school, answering the students’ question, “Why do we need to study the inverse square law?”
I emphasize to my students the importance of a challenging patient teaching them to expect the unexpected—always do your very best to obtain more than a mediocre image.
Q: What advice do you usually give to your students?
A: After almost 50 years in radiography, I tell them to obtain as much education as they can along the way. Also, passing on as much helpful advice and encouragement as they can help others become better technologists.
Q: If you could sum up your job in one word, what would it be and why?
A: Marvelous—I think that I enjoy my job as an educator so much because when I started out, I liked to hold a film in my hand and see a finished product. Now, I can talk with that finished product and follow that former student along as they journey to a successful career.
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