Programs: Computed Tomography, Diagnostic Medical Imaging Nuclear Medicine
For 13 years, Amy Yarshen was a nuclear medicine technologist at Hinsdale Hospital, working days, nights, weekends, holidays and on-call.
"Getting called in at 2 a.m. for an emergency exam was not an inconvenience for me," she said. "It was an opportunity to help someone in need."
Now Yarshen is helping students at College of DuPage, where as a student herself she took an introductory class to explore possible career options and discovered Nuclear Medicine. She was instantly fascinated by the field and, upon receiving her acceptance letter into the program, read one of the Nuclear Medicine textbooks in its entirety before classes began.
"As a student at College of DuPage, I received instruction from the most professional and inspirational teachers. They created a space where I was comfortable learning, encouraged us to ask questions, and engaged us in the material," she said. "These teachers were an instrumental part of me reaching my educational goals.
"I began teaching as a clinical instructor at the hospital where I worked. COD's Nuclear Medicine students would come to the hospital for their clinical education. Remembering how nervous I was as a student, I wanted to make them feel comfortable and set the stage for a great clinical rotation. I wanted them to have the same exceptional experience I had as a student."
While maintaining her role as a nuclear medicine technologist and clinical instructor, Yarshen began coordinating the clinical portion of the College's Diagnostic Medical Imaging Nuclear Medicine (DMIN) program. At the same time, her love for teaching grew as she worked with more students.
Now as a full-time faculty member, Yarshen is the program chair for both the DMIN and the Computed Tomography (CT) programs.
“Although I began my career in nuclear medicine, I discovered that learning about the various other modalities is essential,” she said. “The world of diagnostic imaging is so connected. Radiologic technologists today are often using equipment that is designed for multi-modality purposes. This means that the very same piece of equipment that is used to obtain a nuclear medicine image of a patient can be used to obtain a CT scan.
“Each imaging modality brings a different piece of the puzzle to the board. While DMIN offers very useful information about the physiologic function within the human body, CT provides the anatomic or structural details. The picture of what is going on with a patient can change and become clearer when the patient has multiple tests using different imaging specialties. What is so great about these multi-modality detectors? One piece of equipment can be utilized to perform a single nuclear medicine scan, a single computed tomography scan or both scans during a single imaging session. This is amazing!”
The level of speed and accuracy of CT imaging also impresses Yarshen.
“There are times when it is almost unbelievable how quickly a scan is performed and how quickly this information helps a patient. I am also fascinated by the 3-D imaging capabilities of CT scanners today. Viewing organs in 2-D is super cool, but 3-D is even cooler! And not only are computed tomography scans fast, but so are the CT technologists!”
When it comes to her students, Yarshen finds it rewarding to see how they transform from the beginning of the program to the end.
"It is really exciting to teach them something in class and hear about how they applied their knowledge in the clinical setting," she said. "Teaching is a place where I have an opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life.
"I hope my students take what they learned in the classroom and become competent and compassionate health care professionals. I hope they remember that the little things they do or don’t do while interacting with patients can make a big difference. I hope my students learn to anticipate patient needs and make each patient as comfortable as possible. I hope they learn how important it is to critically think and ethically act in the workplace."
She also appreciates the people who do good things behind the scenes without seeking recognition.
"I love finding out about someone in need and helping them without him or her ever knowing. A little thoughtfulness can make someone else’s day. A smile is also inspiring. Everyone should wear a smile."