Your eyes don’t deceive you: there’s something different about the Nebraska Methodist College website.
For the rest of October 2016, the signature blue of the Methodist Health System and its affiliates has given way to the color pink on the NMC website.
This acts as a show of solidarity with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s far from the only thing happening on campus. We also just announced an online mammography program, which will give Radiologic Technology specialists the tools they’ll need to conduct diagnostic imaging of the human breast.
In fact, the new mammography program is the latest in a line of sweeping changes to our Rad Tech programming that means an exceptional new learning environment for students.
New Lab For a New Year
It all began about a year ago, when plans were being formulated for the new 501 Center, the very same that opened this past fall on the NMC campus.
At that time, our leadership team was still in the process of evaluating the needs of the college and, more importantly, the needs of our students. We wanted to make sure that we remained on the cutting edge of a welcoming study environment for all those who trusted us to give them their healthcare education.
Many ideas were discussed, but one stood out above others. While we were incredibly proud of our Rad Tech program and the exceptional students it produced, one thing we always wished for was an energized lab.
At the time, students were forced to get their hands-on imaging experience in a clinical setting. They could practice their skills on campus, but that real-world component was missing. An energized lab had specific requirements that we simply couldn’t satisfy in the room that was previously designated for Rad Tech.
That all changed when we purchased the building that would eventually become the 501 Center. That building possessed lead-lined walls thanks to its previous life as an imaging facility, and it was those walls that would make our dream of an energized lab a reality.
Therefore, the decision was made to move the home of the Rad Tech program into the newly renovated space just down the block, and that’s precisely where our RT students now call home.
The lab itself was modeled off of the Gretna Methodist Physicians Clinic. Now, students can use state-of-the-art imaging equipment to conduct actual x-ray screenings and other diagnostic procedures without ever having to leave campus. They do so under the tutelage of instructors like myself, who can provide insights on the new equipment that weren’t possible before.
But that was only the beginning of what we had in mind…
Mammography isn’t our first certificate program related to the field of x-ray imaging.
Previously, we offered our students the opportunity to gain expertise in Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Given the success of those programs, we quickly sought to determine those areas that would be in demand not just among students, but among the entire population seeking healthcare services.
Mammography quickly materialized as a relevant option in Omaha and throughout the country. With breast cancer awareness at an all-time high and more women than ever recognizing the need for regular check-ups, we need more imaging specialists who are capable of conducting mammograms and other tests.
In that way, we see the mammography certificate as filling an important niche in the community. Our graduates work throughout the Omaha metropolitan area and beyond, and this certificate gives them and all future students the opportunity to attain the advanced credentials that will allow them to make a positive difference for women’s health.
Thus, the mammography program was born. Graduates of this online certificate program will be educated to conduct these tests while exhibiting the sensitivity and compassion that is the hallmark of an NMC education.
The program takes just a semester to complete, a total of nine credit hours. In addition to regular coursework, students have the option to conduct a clinical externship in order to gain the requisite number of clinical hours required by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists to get the (M) credential after one’s name.
There’s a very good reason why these hours are optional and not a requirement of the program. Our students will be working Rad Techs, so in most cases, they will be able to procure these clinical hours within their established careers. But that might not always be the case, so we want to make sure our students always have the capacity to attain the proper clinical placement.
We also have two entry points to the program. The first is for practicing RTs simply looking to expand their professional capabilities. The second is for those enrolled in the Imaging Sciences Bachelor’s degree program. Upon earning their Associate degrees, students have the option to finish their Bachelor of Science and any additional certifications they would like to achieve. Mammography is now one of those options, along with the aforementioned CT and MRI tracks.
All of the Bachelor’s-level coursework, including mammography, is conducted online, the ideal choice for persons working in the field who don’t want to necessarily stop everything they’re doing to return to school. Instead, you can work and complete school at the same time, achieving a balance that would otherwise prove impossible.
The Journey Continues
It’s been a year of firsts for the college, but our Rad Tech growth is only beginning. We will continue to welcome students who wish to stand at the forefront of their industry, providing the best care possible while utilizing all of the technological innovations that arise to reshape healthcare.
Mammography is the latest example of our students rising to the occasion, but it certainly won’t be the last. And that’s why we’re excited for what the future will continue to hold at Nebraska Methodist College.