Conversation With An X-ray Tech School Dean: Getting Accepted and Succeeding in an X-Ray Tech Program
In this episode of “Skeleton Crew,” join Jenn and her special guest, Cheryl DiLanzo, Dean of Health Sciences at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC).
Cheryl has been an educator for 30 years, teaching, leading, mentoring, and advising students. Listeners will gain exclusive insights regarding the essential prerequisites, academic requirements, and clinical experiences that will shape your educational journey.
Insights In This Episode
- Job transition to the education field
- The importance of Mentorship
- Role as a Clinical Coordinator
- Structuring clinical experiences
- The strength of the radiography program at MCCC
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Today’s Guest: Cheryl DiLanzo
Cheryl DiLanzo, is the Dean of Health Sciences at Montgomery County Community College.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Thomas Jefferson University and her Master of Science degree in Allied Health Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Cheryl’s career in education has spanned from being a Radiography clinical educator, full time faculty and program director of the Radiography Program.
In 2002, Cheryl was hired by the college as a consultant to develop the Radiography Program. Now, 21 years later, the program, is recognized as a premier Associate of Applied Science Radiography Program in the region.
In 2021 Cheryl was promoted into the position of Dean of Health Sciences.
Cheryl is married and has two adult children who live out of state. She enjoys running, hiking, travelling, and reading in her free time.
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About Skeleton Crew
Skeleton Crew is the show for current and prospective techs in radiography and related modalities, exploring career options, life as a practicing tech, and the future of the practice. Each week, host Jen Callahan, ARRT interviews practicing rad techs, educators, business and industry leaders who are shaping radiology now and in the future.
Skeleton Crew EP004 – Cheryl Di Lanzo (audio).mp3
[00:00:00] Cheryl DiLanzo
Students are very uncomfortable touching each other to position them for a chest x ray, for any x ray, and you have to put your hands on these people. You will be touching patients, and I think because we’ve taught our younger generations “keep your hands to yourself”, “No touching”, “It’s inappropriate”, now that people don’t know what to do. And so we’ve had to reteach students how to appropriately touch patients and their co students, how to position, you know, the first thing you learn is a chest x ray. That’s our very first thing. They’re very afraid. So we’ve had to start to model ourselves in a way that here’s how you’re going to do that. You have to be control of the patient in terms of positioning them.
[00:00:48] Jennifer Callahan
Welcome to the Skeleton Crew. I’m your host, Jenn Callahan, a technologist with ten plus years experience. In each episode, we will explore the fast paced, ever changing stuff that’s completely crazy field of radiology. We will speak to technologists from all different modalities about their careers and education. The educators and leaders who are shaping the field today, and the business executives whose innovations are paving the future of radiology. This episode is brought to you by X-ray technician Schools.com. If you’re considering a career in X-ray, visit X-ray technician Schools.com To explore schools and to get honest information on career paths, salaries and degree options. Hi, everybody. Thanks for being here with us today. We have a new guest with us. Her name is Cheryl Dilanzo. She’s currently the dean of health sciences at Montgomery County Community College, and she’s here today to talk to us about her transition from being a radiographer through up until her career path now as dean of health sciences at the community college. And we’re also to ask her for some insight into college admissions and any suggestions that she might possibly have for those who are looking to go into this field. And even if you are in this field, what you can do for educational paths, post your degree. So, Cheryl, thanks so much for for being with us.
[00:02:18] Cheryl DiLanzo
Thanks for having me.
[00:02:18] Jennifer Callahan
My pleasure. To start off today, Cheryl, I’m going to talk to you about what originally attracted you to the x ray radiography. Allied health field.
[00:02:29] Cheryl DiLanzo
I had gone off to college and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was at University of Maryland having a great old time and with no real path. I was taking my gen eds and one of our neighbors where I lived was the Dean of health sciences at Thomas Jefferson University, one of our neighbors in my neighborhood. And he did some coaching and college advising on the side. And I had met with him and he’s throwing a bunch of different careers at me. Do I want nursing? No. Does this sound interesting? No. And he finally got to radiography and I’m like, Sounds good. So I ended up going to Jefferson and getting my bachelor’s degree again, not with any sort of original passion for that, but more of sounded good. I have no other path. I’ll do that. And so that’s how it started.
[00:03:22] Jennifer Callahan
I kind of have a similar story that I wasn’t currently in school when I chose this path, but I was in a totally different career. I was an enforcement officer for child support and I had worked in that field for three years and just needed to branch out from there. I was pretty young. I was in my early 20s and it was kind of way too much for me at that point in time of my life and I wanted to change. And I had a friend who I was working with who kind of felt similar, and she was choosing to go into nursing. And I said, Same thing as you. I’m like, Yeah, no, no nursing. So then I just started looking into like other allied health fields and same as you, I was like, yeah, radiography x ray. That sounds cool. I think I could do that.
[00:04:04] Cheryl DiLanzo
Isn’t it funny? Like some people have these passions from the beginning, like they’ve had many x rays or CT scans or MRI or somebody in their family has gone through a lot of health problems and they’ve gone with them to all these appointments. And sometimes that is the driving force like I’ve seen it all, this is what I want to do. And then there’s people like you and I who are okay, sounds like something that I could do for my career. I’ll go that direction without really knowing all that much about it.
[00:04:30] Jennifer Callahan
So you worked as like a working tech for a while, and then how did you slowly transition into education?
[00:04:38] Cheryl DiLanzo
It actually wasn’t that slow. When I graduated from Jefferson, I immediately started my master’s degree at University of Pennsylvania and Allied Health Education. That was part time in the evenings and so forth. And so during the day I was working as a technologist. I worked at a few different places, would work weekends, and I got my experience that way. So while I was doing my master’s degree and even a little bit after that, I also was working as a technologist. I worked at like a walk in clinic, which would now be like an urgent care. They didn’t really call them that back in that day, but sort of like that. I also worked at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which was humongous. And if you know anything about these big organizations where you see like 1 or 2 portable machines, they were like eight portable machines that people would take out first thing in the morning and you wouldn’t see us again until like one in the afternoon with all of our cassettes, as they called them, back in the day. Now it’s so different. Everything is digital. You need your one plate and off you go and they get them immediately. This was very different. It was back when we had daylight processors and back then. So then when I got my master’s degree and I was working part time again, the same person who had had me go into this field originally became sort of my life mentor.
[00:06:00] Cheryl DiLanzo
He has been with me sort of ever since, which I’ve figured out about 40 years now in this field. He’s been my mentor always, and he sort of opened a door for me at Jefferson to come back and be a lab instructor just to get my feet wet, learning how to teach. I felt such a compelling need to teach. So I love doing that. And as time went on, that ruined to being able to teach other things besides lab. But Dr. Larry Abrams has been my mentor forever and I owe most of my career to him. Including where I sit today because of the things he’s taught me how to be a professional, how to make better decisions, what weren’t good decisions, just all those sorts of things. So I think everybody needs a mentor. I think that’s sort of what I feel like in this role and as an educator is to be a mentor for others. I have many examples of that. I think those are sort of things that I forget about sometimes, but I hope that the people that I’ve mentored along remember because I won’t forget how people have helped me. I think that’s really important. Regardless of what field you’re in, doesn’t have to be radiography. I’m just using that as today’s example. Right.
[00:07:14] Jennifer Callahan
Just a little background for everyone who’s with us today. Cheryl was actually my clinical coordinator at the time, right? Is that what the term was? So Cheryl would come and she would meet with me and the other student techs who were out at our clinical site first year we did Tuesdays, Thursdays and then following year was Monday, Wednesday, Friday. But Cheryl did the seniors, we were the second years, so she would come out and meet with us, what, at least one day a week she would stand there with us, you know, and watch us do exams and then give us constructive criticism. And then we would leave and go with her and sit in a quiet area. And she’s basically there to say, like, any questions that you have, let’s talk about it. I really have to say, felt lucky having you there with us as a mentor. You were right. Yeah.
[00:08:01] Cheryl DiLanzo
I think one of the strengths of our radiography program here at Montgomery County Community College is the strength of our clinical program. I think that we’ve learned over the years when we see some of the other schools that we share sites with just the strength of our program, because we do have somebody from the college at all of our sites at least once a week. And you’ll probably be surprised to hear this, Jen, But we now have 20 different clinical sites that our Radiography program is affiliated with across the Delaware Valley region. You know, we’ve had to tell sites they’ll have to wait because 20 is a lot for us to manage. And we really have a robust clinical program. And I think that does make the strength of our radiography program better. And we’ve had that noted many times about how we run our clinical portion, same way with Tuesday, Thursday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. That hasn’t changed. That’s sort of a model that is used probably throughout the country in terms of how clinical is run in these two year or 21 month programs. So now what we have to create, as you can imagine, the grid of rotations that we’ve had to create over the years to get everybody at the right amount, volume and variety as they like to say, from the standpoint everybody having the similar experiences.
[00:09:21] Cheryl DiLanzo
We want to people have experiences in pediatrics. One of our partner sites is Saint Christopher’s Hospital for Children. We also have Children’s Hospital in King of Prussia. We want students to have pediatric experience. We want people to have experience with CMS. So we have pain centers that we partner with. We have the major hospitals and we have a lot of outpatient centers as well. So the way that we have now formed our clinical experiences is that beginning in the summer. So after the first year, after the students have sort of gotten their feet wet of what is expected in the summer, go to one main clinical site and then one outpatient clinical site. And it’s like that through the second year as well, one main and one outpatient. So that by the time you graduate, you’ve been to approximately 7 or 8 sites total.
[00:10:14] Jennifer Callahan
That’s awesome. I mean, that’s so much experience coming out from school that you shouldn’t almost feel like a fish out of water coming out because we’re like having like a deer in headlights, right?
[00:10:24] Cheryl DiLanzo
And our students are really hired right away with so much experience. Our clinical sites pluck them right out from being a student and say, Come work for us. When you pass the registry or when you graduate out. So our employment rate is very high and that is on our website. If anybody wants to go to the website to read about our program effectiveness data, which has to be published by every program in the United States on the program website, you have to publish certain data for the public as required by the accreditor. And that information is things that make our program strong, such as how many students that are seeking employment gain employment, how many students pass the registry on their first attempt. And these are things that are on our website and updated yearly. Obviously.
[00:11:13] Jennifer Callahan
How many students are in the program at this point? We take 18.
[00:11:17] Cheryl DiLanzo
Students every year and we feel very quickly. I’ll tell you about that process in a second. So we have 18 students that we take every year, and then we start a wait list and we take up to ten students on the wait list. I know that when you were a student, we used to use something called a. Kitchen. We no longer do that. Being a community college, we decided about eight years ago or so that these petitions were sort of not the way a community college should accept students because community college takes students without having to have the necessary required SATs and all those other things. So what we’ve done now is we set up certain prerequisites and our prerequisites are anatomy and physiology one and two and math. Those are the only three prerequisites that you have to have to get into the program. If you have passed those three courses with a C or better, you are eligible to enroll and then it’s first come first serve when registration opens in March. So when registration opens in March at 8 a.m., we generally are filled with our 18 spots by the end of the day, and then the waitlist begins. We’ve had this occur. It’s been years now since we moved to BlueBell in 2017, which is when we moved from Pottstown to BlueBell. We’ve been filling like that regularly.
[00:12:42] Jennifer Callahan
Yeah. Don’t remember the admission process being like that when I applied. When you applied.
[00:12:49] Cheryl DiLanzo
To give points, right? We used to give points. If you had an A, we used to give points. If you lived in the county, we used to give points. If you, you know, this was the second time you tried to get in and you didn’t get in the first time. And we eliminated all that and made it more of an even playing field for all students who really did meet the benchmark of anatomy and physiology one and two and math. Once that happened, then everybody’s even. That has made it much easier for us and also more equitable for students who want to get into this field. We do feel very quickly. We have a very good reputation in the community and beyond. Obviously, we got a call from a student, our program director got a call from a student actually, and our program director now is Dana Smith. She was our full time faculty. When I was promoted into this position. She was promoted into that position. And so we just sort of all moved on. But she got a call from a student one day. The student called and said, I was on an airplane and I was talking to my seatmate who they didn’t know.
[00:13:53] Cheryl DiLanzo
They wanted to go into this field of radiography and they didn’t know where to go or what to do. And this random person on a plane said that they heard that we had a great reputation and they should apply here. So it was that’s how far reaching I think, our reputation is for the program and the strength of our faculty and the support that we have here. You’d be amazed, Jen, what we have in our lab, it’s not like what we had at the Pottstown campus. That stuff was all sold and given away for parts, probably along with our film processor and hand developer tank. So we no longer have any of those things anymore. Obviously we have the system, we have a system and we have a mini packs so that when the students take their images, we can pretend it’s like a hospital or a doctor’s office and we have a viewing station where we can simulate being the physician to go ahead and look at the images that are being sent across. We also have a portable machine and we also have a mini cam.
[00:14:59] Jennifer Callahan
That’s awesome. Oh, my goodness. That’s mean the arm thing alone, because I have to say myself coming out of the program that was distilled, the one thing that I was uneasy was the seal.
[00:15:12] Cheryl DiLanzo
We are looking to replace both of those this year with digital versions of both the portable and the C-arm. Hopefully we’ll get those. But most exciting about our program, which you’re not even going to believe, is we have a virtual reality x ray room. How this works is in a different part of our classroom lab students put on their virtual reality headset and the hands and using a software system that was developed in Australia. We can simulate taking an x ray of any part of the body on a simulated patient. Taking a simulated x ray of however you position the patient, and that image will get sent to our faculty and they can analyze that image based on what you did in your positioning of the patient. We are one of two places in the whole United States that has this virtual reality. It’s incredible. So I’ll just tell you a funny story that when we signed up to get this, so I was still the program director at the time and we were looking into this. And of course, Covid sort of interrupted. But before Covid, when I was looking into this, we had the rep come out and set me up.
[00:16:28] Cheryl DiLanzo
And I’ve never used any virtual reality gaming or anything like that. So I was unfamiliar with what that felt like or seemed like. And I had the headset on, I had the hands on and I’m standing in front of an x ray table and a patient is lying on the table. I went to lean on the virtual table and there’s nothing there, obviously. So I almost fell right onto my face on the floor. Not just it’s so real and I’m like leaning on the table, but there is no table. So you’re I’m like, Oh, my goodness, this is crazy. What is happening is we can now run sort of two labs at the same time. So we have two students at a time doing virtual. We need two students there at a time in case something does happen and somebody becomes dizzy or disoriented. And then we can have two students or three students in our energized laboratory doing our regular positioning with the real x ray equipment. And this is really helped students to learn positioning patient care. And it’s been incredible. We can grade the students who are in the virtual lab just like we would in the energized lab.
[00:17:37] Jennifer Callahan
I think that’s probably especially great for exams that aren’t seen that often, but you may still need to have the competency for where, you know, we used to like simulate the competency, but yourself or possibly Cisco was just going off of what our positioning looked like in front of you. But now you have this where like it’s actually going to produce an image and you can see what the image is. Is it turning out the proper way? I think I had to simulate sinuses. Sinuses just didn’t come in front of me. Never came. Yeah, it never came. And because that’s one of the body parts that you don’t learn until later in school, I think I had about six months for it to come across to me and it never did. So I did have to simulate that. But now at this point, I mean, that’s great because. The images alone would show you, you know. Do you have a position properly? Sphenoid sinuses are located out of the eyes. It’s those sorts of things.
[00:18:33] Cheryl DiLanzo
That are just make the program stronger. The other thing that we have here in the Health Sciences Center is something called an anatomage table. This is incredible. So this is not just for radiography, but this is for all of health sciences and even for our Stem programs like anatomy and physiology. The Anatomage table is a virtual dissection. What it is, is it has 2 or 3 different bodies and it’s this very long table. And you can dissect this person and you can just look at bones, muscles, organs. You can do body systems, you can upload CT scans, x ray images as if you were looking at this body part. You can turn the body and you can just look at blood flow. You can look at anything. It is very robust. And this has been great for all the health sciences and the anatomy. We even are using it in our nutrition classes to show digestion. There’s a lot of ways we can use it. So it’s a instead of going like in medical school and using dissecting a human, this is just virtual dissection without the mess and without having to store anything and without the cost. We have one here at the Blue Bell campus and we have one also at our Pottstown campus. Anybody can use it. It’s again, an incredible tool for our students in health sciences to be able to use medical terminology and anatomy, biology, so many uses for this table. So we also have incorporated that into our programming.
[00:20:08] Jennifer Callahan
As you were talking about the health sciences and talking about the different programs that also use it, what programs are underneath the umbrella of health sciences there at Montgomery County.
[00:20:19] Cheryl DiLanzo
So we have nursing, which is our largest. It’s also one of our largest programs here at the college in general because they take students three times a year where the rest of us take students just once a year. We have dental hygiene, which has a beautiful clinic that serves patients in our community. Right here in bluebell, we have physical therapist assistant, which is a newer program to our division. They take students once a year. They take 16 students in January every year, and they go out to be physical therapist assistants. We have surgical technology and those students are the ones that go out and work in operating rooms or surgery centers. And they’re the ones that learn about the tools of surgery and help the surgeon and assist in that way. Obviously radiography. Then we have medical laboratory technician. They’re the ones that work in the lab to analyze body fluids and samples. We have phlebotomy, so they’re the ones that maybe work at LabCorp or in the hospital taking your blood. We have medical assistants, so they are the people who in a hospital, in a clinic are the ones that come with their iPad and get all of your background information. You know, how tall are you? Are you on any medications? They also learn phlebotomy as well. We have exercise science and wellness, which spans things like to be a personal trainer. These people also often go on to fields like kinesiology, physical therapy. Then we have public health, which is also a newer program. Public health is one of the ones that we don’t really have labs for, but this is a field that interests me tremendously because they do so much in our community right now. We think of public health as the people who are doing vaccine clinics, but there’s so much more than that.
[00:22:01] Cheryl DiLanzo
They do water safety, food safety, air. And so they work in a lot of different venues. I think this is a great field. A lot of our students go on to a four year degree. We have partners with Gwynedd, Mercy and Arcadia for students from public Health to seamlessly go on for a bachelor’s degree in those areas. We also have health care administration. You can get an associate’s degree in that and then go on also for your bachelor’s degree. Then beyond those, we have some workforce development or non-credit programs which you might be interested in because we started with CT and MRI. So any student graduate that has their registry and radiography can come back here and do CT or Mr.. It is an asynchronous lecture format, so you do it as you want and then we can provide you with clinical or you can provide your own. So we have a lot of students who are like, I don’t know how to get a clinical placement. Well, we have a lot of clinical placements for CT and MRI, or you might work at a place that says, No problem, you can just come here and you can do your clinical with us. So we have CT and MRI as a workforce development program. We have nurse refresher, we have massage therapy, we have a beautiful massage clinic here in bluebell. Those are our workforce development programs. Those are what I oversee here. All of our health care programs are now located only in bluebell. We used to have programming also in Pottstown, and we don’t have any health care programming that you can start and finish there. Everything is here on this campus in a relatively new building that was finished in 2017.
[00:23:46] Jennifer Callahan
The BlueBell campus is definitely larger than the Pottstown campus.
[00:23:49] Cheryl DiLanzo
Oh yes. Oh yeah. Pottstown is smaller. This campus has, I don’t know, ten buildings or so. And we are in what’s called the Health Sciences Center, which is off of Cathcart Road and near the tennis courts. And so we are housed in that building.
[00:24:05] Jennifer Callahan
Cheryl, do you find that the students that are coming into some of these programs, do you think that they’re. Would you say that they’re mostly coming out of high school or are you getting kind of like how I was? I think we’re finding both.
[00:24:17] Cheryl DiLanzo
I think it’s difficult for right out of high school to go into one of the health careers because of the prerequisites. So you’d have to be extremely motivated and also have it sort of planned out that the minute you graduate from high school, you’re going to sign up for the summer sessions here and get that anatomy and physiology, get that math, get whatever you need for some of the other programs in the summer in order to enroll in the fall. But as I mentioned, a lot of these programs are filled before the fall starts. So that makes it sort of difficult. The other thing that a student who’s very motivated in high school could do is enroll in dual enrollment, where they’re taking some of their high school classes through Montco. So they’re getting high school credit and college credit, and that will help them to get those prerequisites out of the way. I think we’re seeing people coming back for second careers. We’re seeing people who are looking for something more stable in terms of a career. Health care is one of those careers that we always know that there’s a high need for. I mean, you can just look at some of these sign on bonuses and you’re like, Oh, I wish I knew because the sign on bonuses are amazing.
[00:25:28] Cheryl DiLanzo
Wow. You could go and get a sign on bonus of $15,000 in some of these places. So that’s really been exciting for our field. We’re in an upswing right now, so our students are getting jobs right away and it does go cyclical. We all know that, you know, oh, then we flood the market, then then they can’t find jobs. I mean, we know that’ll happen. I’m hoping it doesn’t happen soon because right now our students who want to find jobs are getting jobs. And we still have a lot of students that go on for other degrees. We have many students who go back to school for a bachelor’s degree, particularly in radiation therapy. They go to Gwynedd-mercy or Jefferson, which are premier places in our area. We have students who go back for ultrasound. I think some of the other ones that our students do, I’ve had 1 or 2 for nuclear medicine, but mostly radiation therapy when they’re going back and then getting these certificates in CT, MRI, mammography, interventional.
[00:26:23] Jennifer Callahan
I think Montgomery County, I mean, everything that you’re saying is just everything that I remember of the school. People ask me, Where did you go to school at? Because I guess they believed that I’m a good radiography, which I feel that I am. And I’m always like, I went to Monaco and they’re like, What? You live all the way out here? Because I now currently work at Lankenau. They’re like, How did the transition? I’m like, Well, at the time I lived out in Horsford, The campus at that point was at Pottstown. I’m like, But my program was phenomenal. I definitely felt so prepared. I was so prepared coming out to sit for the registry. I got a very high score on the registry and I thankfully too, did not have a hard time getting a job coming out.
[00:27:01] Cheryl DiLanzo
I think that’s like the testament. Sometimes you get graduates that come back to say hello or they’ll email or out of the blue they’ll ask me, they’ll find me on Facebook or somewhere, LinkedIn, and reach out to ask me a question like, Hey, I’m thinking about doing this. Where should I go do that? Or people that are like, Our place needs students. Can we partner with you guys? And it is great to keep in touch with our past graduates just to hear the amazing things they’re doing. I feel like that’s part of the reward of being an education. All the hundreds of students over the years that I’ve felt like I’ve had this tiny piece of and it’s like, Oh, look at them, look at what they’re doing. Or I’ll see that they’ve had kids, they’ve gotten married, they’ve done these amazing things. It’s like, Look at this, look at that. That is the reward. That to me is the reward.
[00:27:51] Jennifer Callahan
Do you find that you can stay more in contact with people now with things like LinkedIn, like that’s how I reached out to you. For us to have conversation today, I think it’s great that there’s a platform like that, right?
[00:28:01] Cheryl DiLanzo
And with LinkedIn, it’s funny, we bring in in the past some outside people who have talked to our second year students about the value of having a presence on social media. And so through bringing in some of these outside people who are experts in social media, had our students start their LinkedIn profile while they’re sitting here at the campus and to say how. Audit is to have a presence because that’s how people are going to find you. That’s how people are going to look for you and scan your connections and scan your background. So it’s really important and we do prepare our students that way as well. I know probably back in 2012, we said, you know, oh, go ahead and get a resume together, get a cover letter together. How are you going to bring this to someone? It’s so different now with social media. So, Sheryl.
[00:28:51] Jennifer Callahan
You shared so much with us at the program. Let’s just talk maybe just a tiny bit more about you. Are you happy with your transition from deciding to go from radiographer into the education path?
[00:29:03] Cheryl DiLanzo
Yeah, I love education. Education is truly my passion and I’ve been able to combine my passion with education, with health care, which I feel has taken me for a great career. It’s not just a job. I feel like my career has spanned through many iterations, even just starting as a coordinator, a faculty member, a program director, and now as the Dean of health sciences. It’s really given me a wonderful career and pathway, being able to combine a lot of different skills into what I do now.
[00:29:41] Jennifer Callahan
Question Though have you ever had someone come into the program, any one of the programs that you’ve talked about, and you could just tell right off the bat that they were kind of like, this is not for me.
[00:29:52] Cheryl DiLanzo
We see that in.
[00:29:52] Cheryl DiLanzo
All of our programs. We’ve had students you may find this funny. So we’ll have students who come into radiography and don’t know if it’s just the generational thing or things that students have been taught. We’ve been taught Keep your hands to yourself. So we’ll get into positioning lab and students are very uncomfortable touching each other to position them for a chest x ray for any x ray. And you have to put your hands on these people. You will be touching patients and. I think because we’ve taught our younger generations. Keep your hands to yourself. No touching. It’s inappropriate. Now that people don’t know what to do. And so we’ve had to reteach students how to appropriately touch patients and their co students, how to position. You know, the first thing you learn is a chest x ray. That’s our very first thing. They’re very afraid. Afraid to put their hands on their patients shoulders. So we’ve had to start to model ourselves in a way that here’s how you’re going to do that. You have to be control of the patient in terms of positioning them, turning them. How about for a lateral? What are you going to do yet? They have to raise their hands. What if they need help? So this has become something that I feel is something we have to reteach into how to appropriately touch patients in a patient care setting. That is not something they know how to do. Of course, we always have the students who say they didn’t realize they were going to see blood.
[00:31:23] Cheryl DiLanzo
They didn’t realize patients were going to be sick. They didn’t realize that there might be vomit, things that come along with patients and sickness and health care. It sort of makes you scratch your head a little bit like you didn’t realize that when you were going to work in a hospital, this was going to happen. Those are some of the things I think we do see. Even students who I feel have done due diligence and really reading about the profession, health care has changed so much. We can’t really send students out to do a shadow experience at a hospital like we used to be able to do maybe 20 years ago. We used to say, Go shadow, you know, over at this hospital. They’ll let you shadow. Things are too strict these days. And I’m not even talking about Covid. I’m talking about HIPAA violations. And just even becoming a volunteer at a hospital has a lot more hoops to jump through than maybe there were. And so we can’t have students just shadow a radiographer for a day and say, Yeah, this is what I want to do. So the only opportunity they have is maybe going on YouTube or TikTok or a social media platform to read about it, but it’s not exactly the same thing as following you through with a portable machine or into the operating room or into the E.R. of a busy trauma center. And so that sort of. Is it doubtful? I think without having people being able to really shadow.
[00:32:52] Jennifer Callahan
Have you ever had students who have left maybe halfway through the first semester or even midway through the program?
[00:32:59] Cheryl DiLanzo
We’ve had students who have left for a number of reasons in all of our programs for many different reasons, even close to graduation. Sometimes I think students were just waiting for that opportunity to leave. I think they were not happy. They knew it wasn’t for them, but they don’t want to make that decision. They’ve invested a lot of time and money. What I try to do with students, because I end up seeing a lot of these students in my office because I do an outreach is let’s find something that will work for you. Have a lot of programs here that maybe you don’t need to ever touch a patient or see a patient. You could work in the lab, you could work in public health. You could work in health care administration. We have other things you could do. You could become a medical coder. You could do medical coding and billing. There are many other options. So what I try to do is not have a student just leave and go off and do nothing. Let’s talk about some of your options that you could do that you might find success with, because I believe truly that there’s something here for everybody. And even if it’s not in this division of health sciences, there’s something here at the college that can work for you.
[00:34:11] Jennifer Callahan
That’s great that there’s an open line of communication that someone should feel comfortable if they find themselves in that position and that they’re just not like out of luck and just you don’t.
[00:34:23] Cheryl DiLanzo
Want to do that. Let’s find a good match for you because it’s not just you being a match on paper for a program. It’s you wanting to do this also that has to line up and let’s find that thing. Let’s figure that out.
[00:34:38] Jennifer Callahan
When you were a clinical coordinator out with the students, were there ever times where someone was taking an x ray and you were kind of like.
[00:34:47] Cheryl DiLanzo
Oh, I probably wouldn’t let it happen on a patient. I might let it happen in a simulation where we’re not actually exposing anybody. What bothered me more in a clinical situation was when a radiographer who was working with that student in the room moved the x ray tube a quarter of a centimeter. And, you know, I get it as the professional, you like it your way, you want to touch it, you want to have the last say of it. And, you know, moving it just a hair would make them feel better. And so it’s like, let it go, let it go. Just let the student do what it was going to be. Okay.
[00:35:20] Jennifer Callahan
I have to say that that has happened to me or it did happen to me as a student. And I remember after they moved it and then at the time they were cassettes. So you still had to take the cassette, bring it to the processor, and they had cut off the anatomy. And I’m like, Oh, I’m like, See, you moved my tube, but you shouldn’t have.
[00:35:37] Cheryl DiLanzo
It’s true. You know, I think in all of our fields, it doesn’t have to just be this one. I think that the health care workers in the field that are working with the students, I think they feel that ultimate responsibility. So they feel the need to make sure that it’s exactly how they would do it. It’s sort of just assuring that everything is safe in their eyes and perfect. A lot of different locations.
[00:36:01] Jennifer Callahan
Health systems use epic charting. So within epic charting, you’re putting your name in as the technologist who’s completing the study so it is on you. If something is either wrong, there’s no way to have a student’s name. I mean, you could type the student’s name in in the comments to say student so-and-so performed exam under my direction but under participating people because you have to be saved into the epic system, there’s no way to formally log a student in. It is a little nerve wracking, I guess, at this point, because things these days with computers and technology is so generated in that sense, right?
[00:36:38] Cheryl DiLanzo
It is. It’s students learn all those systems, whether it be epic or any of the others. Most of our larger health care systems now are with Epic. And that’s all we used to hear about, is, oh, we can’t have as many students were learning Epic. Been hearing this for years. You know, this system is going with that. But that’s going with that. Beck And now with these health care systems sort of absorbing some of the smaller systems, you know, there really are only a few health care systems out there at this point. And some of those smaller places have been absorbed in that’s had its challenges for us as well.
[00:37:10] Jennifer Callahan
I’d say in the past year, at least two hospitals in the area, three, I think have closed in the past year and a half. There’s Jennersville, Brandywine Hospital and Delaware community. Did any of those affect your program?
[00:37:23] Cheryl DiLanzo
It didn’t, but like Chestnut Hill had been with Tower Health. Now they’re with Temple. We are with Chestnut Hill for radiography. And I believe also for our phlebotomy students that made us have to create new affiliation agreements because we affiliate at the college. We are affiliated with close to 300 clinical facilities across the Delaware Valley on all of our health care programs. This is a lot of maintenance that creates a whole thing of new affiliation agreements.
[00:37:51] Cheryl DiLanzo
Now we have to fill it with Temple.
[00:37:53] Cheryl DiLanzo
Maybe we didn’t have one with Temple. So there’s sort of a trickle down effect to us that people don’t realize has to happen also.
[00:38:00] Jennifer Callahan
Cheryl, thank you so much for all this information that you gave us. I just want to end with a single question. If you could give a piece of advice to anyone who is currently in the field or looking to branch into the allied health or radiography field, specifically, what would it be?
[00:38:16] Cheryl DiLanzo
Oh, I would say a couple of things. I mean, I think we can look at it from the academic standpoint, which is do the best you can in your science courses because those are true predictors of how well you’ll do in these very rigorous academic programs, regardless of what they are. And I think the other thing would be to really know that these programs are a limited amount of time. And I know that sometimes they’re not the best schedule for you and your work life and your home life, but it is a limited time and get the most out of it that you can because we are trying to send out the very best practitioners in our field. I think that’s the most important thing. And to really come to an open house, speak to people in the field because we don’t want students to waste time and money, we know that that’s precious to everybody to really look into it and to come here, get a tour. We’re always open to give tours, talk to people, come to virtual open houses on campus or online open houses. We have many of them all the time.
[00:39:17] Jennifer Callahan
Well, thank you so much for taking your time with me today. I really appreciate it. Everybody, thank you for joining us. Today. Again on Skeleton Crew was meeting with Cheryl Dilanzo, the dean of health sciences at Montgomery County Community College. And if you want to follow along with us on YouTube, Spotify, and then we’re also two Apple Podcasts. Everybody, have a great day. Thank you so much, Cheryl. You’ve been listening to the skeleton crew brought to you by X-ray technician Schools.com. Join us on the next episode to explore the present and the future of the rad tech career and the field of radiology.