New graduates of Diagnostic Imaging on the frontlines
Grateful, surreal, overjoyed, bittersweet are some of the words that new graduates of the Diagnostic Imaging Program at Dawson College used to describe their feelings about graduating early during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The College went through a process to determine that each student met the competencies of the three-year career program. Twenty-one students learned they graduated during a Zoom meeting April 17 with their department and the dean. These new graduates are now part of the workforce, bolstering the capacity of the healthcare system.
Supporting each other
“It was a huge win to be able to help out on the frontlines,” said Brittney Notaro, who mentioned she was also sad not to finish the program with her classmates. “The group in my year was incredible! We are all friends and have a group chat to support each other.”
Brittney, 25, works as a multi-site technologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital at the new Glen site and at the Montreal General Hospital. “For the first two weeks, they prepared us and on Tuesday, May 19, we will be starting to work with COVID-19 patients. I think we are all ready,” she said. Brittney believes her work will fluctuate between floors, walk-in patients and COVID-19 patients.
It takes a team
Alicia Ménard is a fellow Diagnostic Imaging 2020 graduate. “I always wanted to help and now I can,” she said. “Nurses and doctors are important but it takes a whole team of health workers to care for patients, including Diagnostic Imaging technologists.”
Alicia was also very happy to graduate early. “I am now doing the job I love!” she said. Alicia, 19, was hired by the Jewish General Hospital, the first hospital designated for treating COVID-19 patients. She feels safer at the hospital than at her previous student job at a grocery store.
“We are well protected and it is going well here,” she said. Alicia works in General X-Ray and often brings the portable x-ray to the intensive care unit to do chest x-rays on COVID-19 patients.
Eyes of the doctor
Dayna Yee, 36, is another new graduate and she works in the Medical Imaging Department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Imaging technologists have a crucial role in aiding the doctors with a diagnosis because we are their eyes,” Dayna said.
“What we are experiencing is unprecedented so it’s definitely more stressful to start your career during a pandemic,” Dayna said. “However, our studies and training throughout school and stage has more than prepared us to face these challenges. Moreover, the management team and dedicated Imaging Technologists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital have been so welcoming and are taking the time to thoroughly train us. The transition from student to technologist has been a seamless one.”
Alicia thanked the great teachers at Dawson College: “The teachers in Diagnostic Imaging were the best teachers I ever had! They are technologists first but they are great teachers.”
Brittney said the teachers took care of the students. “They were not just teaching; they were ensuring that we understand,” she said.
Dayna said the Diagnostic Imaging program is like a family: “We always supported one another. The dedicated staff members, clinical instructors and lab technologists were always available to lend a hand, even during their off hours. They devoted countless hours preparing us to succeed.”
Continuing to support new grads
The teachers have told the new graduates that they will continue to support them by helping prepare them to write the professional order exam to get their licenses. Currently, the new graduates have special authorization to work while they wait to write the order exam, which has not been set yet.
All three new graduates are happy in their new careers. “It’s a hard program but you can do it if you put in the work. In three years, you finish and get a job,” Brittney said when asked if she had anything to say to someone considering the program.
Dayna said: “The environment is fast paced, stimulating, challenging, and has a strong sense of team environment, loyalty and integrity. I believe these are all excellent qualities and a true testament to the integrity of the staff and to this profession.”
Celebration and pride
The new graduates made their own graduation caps and celebrated together on Zoom. “It has been three years!” Brittney said. “We worked super hard and graduated under insane circumstances.”
Speaking for Dawson’s Diagnostic Imaging Program, Program Co-Chairs and Coordinators Ania Stosiak and Vicky Fusco said: “The program is very proud of our students and wish them success during this challenging time.”