The Present and Future of The Radiologic Technologist Career, with Dr. Kelli Welch Haynes
Episode Topic: In this engaging episode of The Skeleton Crew, host Jen Callahan engages in a compelling conversation with Dr. Kelli Welch Haynes, the Director of the School of Allied Health at Northwestern State University, whose impressive 23-year career is steeped in radiologic education and a deep commitment to radiation protection. Dr. Haynes brings a wealth of experience to this enlightening discussion, where the focus on radiation protection is paramount.
Lessons You’ll Learn: Listeners of this episode will gain profound insights into the world of radiologic education, where the core theme of radiation protection runs throughout. Dr. Haynes not only stresses the need for staying updated with the latest technologies and practices in radiology to prevent professional stagnation but also delves into the critical role of research in advancing radiation protection measures within the field.
About Our Guests: Dr. Haynes traces her journey from her roots as a radiologic technologist to her current role as a distinguished educator with a fervent dedication to radiation protection and radiobiology. Throughout the conversation, she passionately underscores the dynamic and continually evolving nature of radiology, with a particular emphasis on the vital importance of radiation protection practices. Her book ‘Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography,’ is a sensation and a must-read for budding radiography students!
Topics Covered: The episode explores multifaceted aspects of radiologic education, touching upon educator roles in instilling radiation protection awareness, curriculum development to include robust radiation safety components and the ongoing imperative for professional growth rooted in radiation protection principles. Throughout this illuminating conversation, the vibrant and ever-changing nature of radiologic technology, with its integral focus on radiation protection, comes to the forefront, offering indispensable insights for all listeners.
Our Guest: Navigating the Radiology Landscape with Kelli Welch Haynes
Dr. Kelli Welch Haynes, a revered educator and forward-thinking leader, brings over two decades of expertise in the field of Radiology and Health Professions Education to our podcast. With a rich background in academia and healthcare management, Kelli is a driving force in shaping the future of allied health education, with a particular focus on radiation protection.
As the Director of the School of Allied Health at Northwestern State University, Kelli has exhibited unwavering dedication to her profession. Her journey spans from being a tenured professor and program director to her current role as the Department Head. Through her dynamic leadership, she has not only elevated the academic standards but has also nurtured the careers of countless radiology professionals, emphasizing the critical importance of radiation protection.
Kelli’s academic journey includes an Ed.D. from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, focusing on Curriculum and Instruction in Health Professions Education and Radiation Protection. With a master’s in Radiologic Sciences Administration from Midwestern State University, she’s committed to advancing radiology and ensuring top-notch radiation protection practices. Her passion for radiology education and radiation protection shines through her long-standing dedication, making her an inspiring guest in this field.
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Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:00:00]
There’s just so many different opportunities. There’s no reason why you should ever be bored. And so even though some people may find it a hindrance, that it’s always changing, I find that to be part of exciting for the field because you don’t become stagnant. You know, you keep up with what’s going on, you’re always growing, always learning. And so I think that’s also a huge advantage for this profession.
Jen Callahan: [00:00:27]
Welcome to The Skeleton Crew. I’m your host, Jen Callahan, a technologist with ten-plus years experience. In each episode, we will explore the fast-paced, ever-changing, and sometimes 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-raytechnicianschools.com. If you’re considering a career in x-ray, visit X-raytechnicianschools.com To explore schools and to get honest information on career paths, salaries, and degree options.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The Skeleton Crew. I’m your host, Jen Callahan, and today I have a special guest with me. Her name is Dr. Kelli Welch Haynes. She is currently the director of the School of Allied Health at Northwestern State University, and she has been in education and radiology. She is celebrating the 23rd year of education. So thank you so much, Kelli, for being here with me. I really appreciate it.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:01:38]
Thank you for having me.
Jen Callahan: [00:01:39]
My pleasure. So Northwestern State University is where are you located at, in the country?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:01:45]
So we are in Louisiana and we are our main campus is in a little town known as Natchitoches, Louisiana. A lot of people are familiar with it because Steel Magnolias was filmed there. But I’m actually on the satellite campus for Allied Health, which is located in Shreveport, Louisiana. So in the northwest corner of the state.
Jen Callahan: [00:02:04]
So give us a little background of yourself. Education for 23 years! That’s quite a feat to have accomplished.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:02:10]
Thank you. So I just fell into it. Honestly, initially, I didn’t have any plans going into education. I graduated from Northwestern State many years ago and I went to work at a local hospital here named Lagniappe Hospital, meaning a little something extra is what that means in Cajun French. And I was working there and I had been there about five years doing x-rays and CT moved up to the Department Head and Northwestern came and approached me and asked if we would like to become a clinical site and start having students and just investing with the faculty from Northwestern. I mentioned that I was working on my master’s degree and they said, would you be interested in teaching? And I was actually getting a master of science with a concentration in administration. And I thought, well, I said, I don’t know. I really love what I’m doing. Can I have some time to think about it? And after lots of thought and prayer, I thought, well, you know what? If I don’t like it, I can always go back. I can always go back to the hospital. There are so many jobs available and so apparently I liked it because I’m still here 23 years later teaching at Northwestern. And it’s been an amazing ride.
Jen Callahan: [00:03:22]
So when you first moved into teaching, did you start off first as like a clinical coordinator working with the students on site, or were you actually teaching classes?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:03:32]
It’s a little bit of both. So when you first come in and that’s the thing that’s special about radiography educators is the overwhelming majority have the clinical experience and you don’t have any teaching experience. So you come in and then you’ve got to kind of learn how to teach, especially if your master’s was not in education, which we offer here at Northwestern State, a master of science in radiologic science. And it can be you can do education or administration. So I had done administration initially. I started out being in clinicals one day a week with the students at a clinical site, and then they slowly but surely I worked my way into being in the classroom initially team teaching classes and then finally taking over the class. And so that’s when I found my love for radiation protection. I was asked to teach that course because the lady that had been teaching it previously retired and just fell in love with that class. And so it just was a slow progression. We don’t just throw you in there initially when you come, so everyone, like I said, has that clinical background and then you work on the teaching part of it.
Jen Callahan: [00:04:40]
So is Northwestern State University. Is that a four-year program?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:04:44]
It is. We are a Bachelor of Science program, and then we also offer concentrations and certificates if students want to in CT, MRI, and cardiovascular interventional. You find the ultrasound program as well. It’s our newest venture. We started it just this year and we’re super excited about the new ultrasound program. It took many years to be able to start that program because it was so expensive to do so, but I’m super excited and we’ll be taking our second cohort of students in the spring for that program.
Jen Callahan: [00:05:17]
Now to develop a new program like that, do you have to receive any type of accreditation through any of the governing boards?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:05:24]
You do. First off, like in Louisiana, you have to get it approved through the University of Louisiana system because that’s the system that my college is in. And then you have to go to the Board of Regents, which is the state, because they don’t want to duplication of programs and there’s not an ultrasound program in the north part of the state. And so we were approved to be able to start one. And then you start the program and you bring students in, but you will want to apply for accreditation before that first group graduates. So they will be graduating from an accredited program. But you have to start the process after you’ve admitted students.
Jen Callahan: [00:05:59]
And then that accreditation is through ARRT or.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:06:03]
They can do the ARRT exams and then Cégep is the name of the group that actually does the accreditation for the Allied Health Program.
Jen Callahan: [00:06:12]
Okay. Do you find a good amount of students or what would you say the ratio would be that do some students move on straight from radiology and go straight into another modality? They’re maybe looking for a certificate?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:06:24]
We do. I would say probably 90% or more of our students end up going into a modality. The way our program is structured is in the lab. You will finish all of your requirements like in the fall semester, and then you’ll be graduating in the spring. And so students spend the entire spring semester in kind of an internship or a fellowship, it can be called, and they get to choose the area that they’re most interested in, whether it be CT, MRI, mammography, trauma, whatever the case may be. And then they work in that area for the last fall semester. And I want to say over 90% of them go to work directly into that advanced modality.
Jen Callahan: [00:07:05]
And I know that you’re the director, so you have a lot to take care of. But do you still teach any current classes?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:07:10]
I do. I still teach radiation biology and radiation safety because it’s one of my loves. I teach radiation physics as well. We do offer a fair amount of our courses online, and so I try to teach at least 1 or 2 each year still in the classroom, just so I can still make that connection with students. And then also will typically teach in our online master of science program.
Jen Callahan: [00:07:34]
So you’re talking about radiation protection and radiation physics. So I want to kind of transition over here to something really exciting. And you co-authored a textbook that is used in education. Can we touch a little bit on this?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:07:48]
Sure. So when I just had so many opportunities come my way, I think that you just need to be open to these opportunities. So just for the fact that I was here at Northwestern and teaching radiation protection, the publisher of the textbook reached out and asked if I wouldn’t mind reviewing the textbook while they were getting ready to work on the next edition. And then I did that 2 or 3 times, and then she reached out and she said, the individuals that are working on this book plan to retire in a couple of additions. So would you be interested in joining that group? And I said I would love to. I was totally shocked. And so we have worked on three editions now and we’re actually getting ready to start on their next edition, which will be the 10th. And so it’s super exciting. But again, it’s something that just came along that I never even thought could possibly happen.
Jen Callahan: [00:08:38]
Yeah, a lot of time that you can still use the previous edition than this one, what changes are being made in between editions or are you doing more research to see what has changed out in the field? And that’s one of the changes that’s going into the textbook.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:08:53]
You are well aware is that radiologic technology is always changing. The biggest change we’ve had here recently was when the AAPM said, you no longer need to shield patients while you are doing abdomen and pelvic radiography. And so that’s part of it, is keeping up with what’s going on in the field, you know, keeping abreast of the ARRT with their content specifications are keeping abreast of the ASRT, what’s in the radiography curriculum. So you want to make sure that your textbook is keeping up with what’s going on in the field and also the curriculum and the ARRT.
Jen Callahan: [00:09:30]
What other topics do you touch on in your textbook? Anything may be that you have a passion about that always has interested you?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:09:37]
The radiobiology part is not so much fun because it’s a little bit of chemistry and learning about the cell and tell my students. One of the first things I say is it’s the same cell you learned about in elementary school. You know, it hasn’t changed. We still have the endoplasmic reticulum, you know, the powerhouse of the cell and those things. So I like more when we get to the radiation safety part about how does radiation affect the cells when radiation interacts within your body. And I just think it’s so cool how an X-ray is even created with the fact of it’s based on the atomic number of the material within your body. And I tell students, I’m like, I know I’m a nerd and that’s why I teach this, but I just think it’s the coolest thing. And so I really getting into that part of the book is the radiation protection part and, the consequences to the cells when they are exposed to radiation.
Jen Callahan: [00:10:30]
How do you feel your students feel about the protection? Because sometimes learning all the different words like said Leighton, and stochastic and trying to figure out which one goes with which. Do you find that sometimes your students are sitting there with a glazed look or they’re actually ingesting it and understanding it?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:10:47]
And one of the things that I do is I have enthusiasm, and I think that kind of keeps them engaged. And then I like to use real-world events and just talk about in clinicals or when I was working, this is what happened, and that what happened. And then I also do mention y’all, this is on your certification exam. So this is part of that content that you need to know to be able to pass that exam. And so we’re always doing. Interactive things, try to keep them engaged in the material and feel like it’s a little more engaging than some of the other courses that are required. So we just make them feel comfortable or we talk about Chernobyl each week. As we finish an episode, we talk about that episode of it and you know about different things like what do you think the public, how did they feel? You know? And that’s where this whole radiation phobia came from, where people were scared of it. There’s just a lot of ways that you need to just try your best to keep them engaged in that material.
Jen Callahan: [00:11:42]
Is this one of the courses that’s taught online or that is offered online?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:11:46]
It’s not. We as a faculty made the decision several years ago that we all of the content that is on the art exam, we are going to keep those classes in the classroom. That’s our physics positioning, patient care, radiation safety. So then our other courses, since we’re a BS degree and we have courses in there that aren’t necessarily required, such as research and quality improvement, we put that in pathology. So we put those courses online. We call them our accessory courses, but our core content, we decided, will always be in the classroom because it’s so important to make sure they get it when they’re sitting in front of you. And like you said, when they do get that glazed-over look, I can look at them and say, all right, where did I lose you? You know, did you just zone out or are you not understanding because you can read their faces, you know, and you can’t do that online? That’s why we prefer to keep those in the classroom.
Jen Callahan: [00:12:39]
Do you find that the students that graduate from the program, is there like a good success rate with them landing employment fairly quickly?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:12:47]
Yes, our students there is a nationwide shortage and that’s just expected to continue. The Department of Labor has said, at least through the next ten years. And so actually in our last semester, we have an interview day. It used to be just mock interviews, but now it’s turned into real-life interviews where we have radiology managers from several of the local hospitals come and interview the students. And typically by the end of the week, everybody has a job. We’ve been doing that for several years. Our job placement rate has been at 100% for as long as I can remember.
Jen Callahan: [00:13:22]
That’s great for you to be able to be on your own working in this profession. How you can have sustained life well on your own, such a great profession that, you know, you can go into this and you can make a great livelihood for it.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:13:35]
That’s exactly right. So when students come and talk to me about they may be interested in radiology, they want to learn more about it and learn more about the program. So that is one of the first things I say is when you graduate and you go to work, you will be able to be self-sufficient. You will make a good living, you will always have a job and you will never get bored. Because if you’re doing diagnostic and you decide, Hey, I want to try something new, you can typically pretty easy cross-train and CT or MRI or trauma or surgery. There’s just so many different opportunities. There’s no reason why you should ever be bored. And so even though some people may find it a hindrance, that it’s always changing, I find that to be part of exciting for the field because you don’t become stagnant. You know, you keep up with what’s going on. You’re always growing, always learning. And so I think that’s also a huge advantage for this profession.
Jen Callahan: [00:14:27]
You’ve had a lot of accomplishments between being in education for as long as you have been being a co-author of the textbook that’s readily used. And then you’re also to a fellow of the Asst.
Jen Callahan: [00:14:39]
How did that come about?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:14:41]
So to become a fellow of the Asst. That was a long-term goal of mine. And so early on in my career, I learned the importance, I guess you could say, of volunteering and just as a way to get involved in my profession. So I volunteered for the Ast and was on a committee or two here or there, and then when you would speak at conferences. And so finally you earn a number of points for each thing that you do. And once you reach a certain number, then you’re able to apply to become a fellow. And so it was a long-term goal and it took a long time to achieve it. And so it’s very exciting because it was a huge goal of mine and so it was exciting and rewarding to meet that goal.
Jen Callahan: [00:15:27]
Does anything else change for you in terms of your volunteering, or maybe are you given more responsibilities as a volunteer with being a fellow?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:15:35]
Well, I guess it could go either way. I personally didn’t let off the gas. I guess you could speak. When I became a fellow, I had continued to stay involved and go to conferences and publish and present. Just because our profession needs that. We need the representation, we need advocacy, we need people to advocate for us. And it’s just helped me stay involved. But I’ve been able to meet more people through networking from being a fellow.
Jen Callahan: [00:16:03]
So putting a lot of time and effort into a great community for the Asst. Is there anything notable that you can think of that? You worked on during your time?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:16:13]
Yes. One of the committees that I worked on at one point was the Curriculum Review Committee. And so again, it’s on a cycle. Every few years they have authors come in and other individuals from the field that come in and get to decide what’s important, what should be in the curriculum, What do future technologists need to know when they go through educational programs? And so I really enjoyed being on that committee. And again, I got to meet some folks that I had only ever seen their name on a textbook. And so that was a great experience. And then I served on the editorial review board for several years, which is for the peer review process of the journal articles. And so that was a great experience as well.
Jen Callahan: [00:16:56]
Do you have any advice that you would give potential people who are looking into the field or even those who are currently in the radiology field?
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:17:03]
Well, I think a few things that’s important is to know that it is constantly changing. As we’ve said that already, several times. And so you need to have a mindset of that. You’re going to keep up with the technology and the practices going on out there, or you’re going to be left behind. So you don’t want to become stagnant. You want to continue to grow with the field. You know, engaging in research is important. Our field truly needs that. And just, king of, look at your career is a lifelong journey and be open to opportunities because you never know where it’s going to take you. You know, health care and education are both very dynamic fields, and those involved in radiography have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on patient care and the development of future professionals. So I feel like it’s a win-win situation because I get to participate in both of those, provide patient care when I go to clinicals, but then also get to teach as well. So I feel like it’s a win-win situation.
Jen Callahan: [00:18:02]
Well, Kelli, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today. I really appreciate it. And your whole entire contribution to the field. Everyone should be bowing down to you.
Kelli Welch Haynes: [00:18:13]
Thank you so much. It’s been a wonderful ride.
Jen Callahan: [00:18:18]
As I had said earlier, thank you for your contribution to the field of radiology. Everybody, this is Dr. Kelli Welch Haynes joining me from Northwestern State University. And then just want to remind everybody that if you enjoyed the show, check us out on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts. You can like us. And then also to maybe leave us a review or some feedback, letting us know what you do like about the show or if there’s anything that you would like to see on the show. All right. This is me and Dr. Kelli. We’ll see you later.
You’ve been listening to the Skeleton Crew brought to you by X-raytechnicianschools.com. Join us on the next episode to explore the present and the future of the rad tech career and the field of radiology.