Jeff State radiology students pass exam, land jobs

Jefferson State radiologic technology department Clinical Coordinator Annette Ferguson teaches students Anna Beth Hyde, Alana Brown, Morgan Lafoy, Aubrie Jackson and Chase Walker about an X-ray machine. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Jefferson State radiologic technology department Clinical Coordinator Annette Ferguson teaches students Anna Beth Hyde, Alana Brown, Morgan Lafoy, Aubrie Jackson and Chase Walker about an X-ray machine. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

By STEPHEN DAWKINS

Staff Writer

HOOVER – Kaitie Rutledge was offered a job the day of her graduation from Jefferson State Community College’s radiologic technology program.

“It was the best graduation present I got,” said Rutledge, originally from Roanoke and now living in Homewood. “I ended up with the first job I wanted, in the St. Vincent’s East cath lab.”

While the timing of the job offer may have been unique, Rutledge’s success story is not.

Jefferson State’s most recent radiology program graduates achieved a 100 percent pass rate for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification exam and 100 percent job placement rate, Clinical Coordinator Annette Ferguson said.

“Our students have certain home base hospitals that we place them in,” Ferguson said. “They’re the ideal student to hire because they’re at that home hospital and they’re familiar with it.”

Radiologic technologists perform medical diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays and CT scans, among others.

Ferguson and Program Coordinator Christie Bolton are both graduates of the program, which began in the late-1960s and is offered only at the Shelby-Hoover Campus.

“I worked in the field and still work in the field on the weekends some,” said Ferguson, who has been a faculty member for 15 years. “I knew I wanted to teach. I am proud of this program and wanted to give back to it.”

Pictures of program graduates line the walls at Jeff State’s Shelby-Hoover Campus.

Pictures of program graduates line the walls at Jeff State’s Shelby-Hoover Campus.

The program is intended to give students a foundation in radiological technology, from which they can specialize in specific areas, such as CT or ultrasound.

Ferguson said the program is appreciative of the support it receives from Jefferson State Community College, such as securing grants to provide a laboratory for students to prepare before they are placed in hospitals.

There are 20 seniors in the program who are scheduled to graduate in May 2017, and 34 juniors who entered the program this semester.

“It’s possible for someone who has been taking college classes to get in the program, and it’s also possible for someone right out of high school to come in,” Ferguson said and added that at least one student has celebrated a 50th birthday while in the program.

Daniel Guest, a 2010 Spain Park High School graduate, and Chase Walker, a 2015 Calera High School graduate, are two of the students new to the program this semester.

Walker said his grandmother was a nurse at UAB, he thinks radiology fits his personality, and he began to think about the career field after sustaining multiple broken bones while playing sports in school.

“I was always interested in the medical field, but I didn’t know where I wanted to be,” Walker said.

Guest said he likes that the same group of students will be together for the duration of the program.

“We get to be part of each other’s success,” he said.

Ferguson said only as many students as can be placed in hospitals for clinicals are accepted each year—usually 35 students.

The list of hospitals the program works with includes St. Vincent’s East, St. Vincent’s St. Clair, Brookwood, UAB Medical West and Princeton. Grandview is being added this fall for the new group of students.

Jeff State’s program works with students to review material prior to their certification exam, including offering a mid-program assessment test.

“If they’re deficient in one area, we work on that area,” Ferguson said. “We do everything we can to review constantly.”

Jeff State students have proven so proficient that oftentimes employers call the college to inquire about upcoming graduates even before they finish their requirements.

Rutledge was based at St. Vincent’s in Birmingham during her time in the program, and also had a student X-ray job at Children’s of Alabama. Now she works with cardiac patients.

“They told us that if you looked for a job, you’re getting a job,” Rutledge said and added that her position is fulfilling. “It’s great to know that you’re really helping save someone’s life.”

For more information about Jefferson State’s radiologic technology program, visit JeffersonState.edu/programs/radiologic-technology/.