BC’s radiation and imaging management program takes grad further than she imagined
Twenty-something Katie Chang supervises ultrasound, nuclear medicine, PET and CT scans, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology for Overlake Medical Center & Clinic in Bellevue, Washington. With 36 people reporting to her and an ever-changing technological landscape, no two days are ever the same. It’s an environment in which Chang thrives, but had you asked her even a few years ago, it wasn’t a position she could have seen herself in.
Chang wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after high school, but one thing was certain: She wanted to find employment and support herself. That might seem like a simple goal, but for someone coming of age during the 2008 recession, it was a challenging one.
“Many of my peers were having a hard time finding work despite having gone to college,” she said. “(Ultrasound) seemed like an interesting job and a good way to earn a living.”
Chang spent a year after high school taking prerequisite courses before being accepted into Bellevue College’s ultrasound program. The combination of low tuition, high-quality coursework and high employment rates post-graduation made the program all the more attractive.
Chang graduated from BC’s associate degree program in diagnostic ultrasound in 2011 and quickly landed a full-time position at Over- lake Medical Center. Taking advantage of Overlake’s employee tuition reimbursement program, she went back to BC for her bachelor’s in radiation and imaging management (RAIM), graduating with the Class of 2016.
The days as a student with a full- time job were long, as she typically worked nine hours and then headed to campus for classes and labs in the evenings. “It took three years, but I’d recommend to anyone to make it happen — just make sure you have some fun on the weekends,” she said.
During Chang’s final quarter in the RAIM program, her supervisor at Overlake announced her retirement and asked Chang if she would be interested in taking her place. Being the youngest member of the team with less than five years’ experience, Chang thought there was no way she would be able to make the leap. “I was 25 and thought, ‘Who’s going to take me seriously?’”
As it turns out, her additional education made all the difference, and Chang soon found herself stepping into a role she hadn’t previously considered for herself so early on in her career: supervisor.
“I am always learning in this role and can’t ever learn enough,” she said. “I work alongside smart people working toward a common goal with exciting new technologies. Things are always changing. As a supervisor, my job is to make sure everyone feels supported.” Quite a feat for a position she jokingly refers to as her “first big-kid job.”
In addition to her daily duties, Chang participates in as many of Overlake’s community events as possible, including the annual Women’s Health and Vitality Fairs, and hosts after-school tours of medical imaging technology for local high school students. Engaging with the community is something near and dear to her heart.
“When I think back to those individuals who inspired me… I’m certain that to this day they have no idea the effect they had on me. It’s really important for me to always try to be that person to others — to lead by example and to let my actions speak for themselves.”
Having advanced so quickly in her career, conversations naturally lead to “what’s next?” Although she has considered graduate school, she finds her job and lifestyle incredibly fulfilling and is enjoying every minute.
“I like where I am right now. My colleagues have become close friends and are even nice enough to laugh at my jokes.”
While Chang admits she didn’t know what she wanted until she had it, she credits Bellevue College with helping her to find her path. She sees the ultrasound program not just as an important step for her career, but for other people of all ages and backgrounds looking to gain a marketable skill in a supportive environment. She notes that she doesn’t know anyone from her time at BC who didn’t find employment right out of school — something she can’t say of her friends who attended other institutions.
“I’m proud of my experience,” said Chang. “I went in with a goal and I got a lot more than anticipated. BC gave me what I needed to succeed — including job placement. It was definitely the right choice for me.”
– by Evan Epstein
In January, the Health Sciences, Education and Wellness Institute hosted its second annual Open House. It was a great event for students to meet up and learn more about the programs offered in healthcare while attending workshops and demonstrations. Interested in exploring the healthcare field? Visit bellevuecollege.edu/health.
Last Updated July 31, 2019