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Blinn’s Radiologic Technology Program celebrates 25 years of service

Program marks milestone with alumni reunion

August 17, 2015

Blinn College’s Radiologic Technology Program was established in 1990 to fill a growing need for highly-trained radiologic technologists. Twenty-five years later, 336 program graduates have enriched a lasting network of highly-qualified medical professionals in the Brazos Valley.

The program has built a reputation for excellence over the last quarter century. Since 1992 the program has maintained a 100 percent pass rate on the national licensure exam.

“We know what it takes for students to meet and exceed what’s on the exam,” said Shelley Pearson, program director. “Now we ask, ‘What can we do beyond that? How can we equip our students to fulfill area needs?’”

M. Elia “Smiley” Flores, dean of Health Sciences, left her post as a radiologic technologist at a College Station hospital to start the program and served 23 years as program director before transitioning to dean.

Under her leadership, the program was recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board twice as an Exemplary Workforce in Education Program and was also recognized by the State of Texas Workforce Investment Council for implementing an evaluation model that improved institutional and student performance.

“If you can plant the seeds of integrity, confidence, leadership, excellence and a servant heart, then you create a foundation for others to follow,” Flores said.

In the two-year program, students learn patient care and safety, anatomy and physiology, image production, equipment operation, radiation protection and radiographic procedures. Pearson said the curriculum consists of three general areas – patient care skills, anatomy and technology.

Students take cumulative exams in preparation for the all-inclusive certification exam.
Liz Freeman and her husband Marcell, 2001 program graduates, can attest to its lasting impact, personally and professionally.

“Their critiques improved our patient care and made us better radiologic technologists,” said Freeman, lead mammographer and breast health navigator at St. Joseph hospital. “We’re thankful now for how much they cared and wanted us to succeed. It wasn’t about the pass rate—they really cared about students thriving after graduation.”

Students, graduates, instructors, administrators and the medical community alike agree that the program’s best attribute is the community it has created.

“The instructors instilled in us a pay-it-forward mindset,” Freeman said. “It’s natural now for us to lead new and former students in the right direction. We hope to keep that sense of family going.”
Approximately half of program graduates stay in the area after graduation, and many students are Bryan-College station natives.

“Our students are higher performers than students anywhere else,” Pearson said. “Employers will hold out for Blinn graduates to avoid having to retrain employees from other programs. Our graduates work in the area and train current students. The perpetual influx of knowledge sets the bar high for everyone. It’s an all-around effort.”

In 1988, St. Joseph Health System provided Blinn a $250,000 grant over two years to establish the program, hire a director, coordinator and purchase equipment. During the first year, without a facility to house the program, students alternated using equipment and conference rooms at St. Joseph hospital in Bryan and Humana hospital, now the College Station Medical Center.

“The 11 students from the first graduating class would tell you some interesting stories,” Flores said. “We had to do a lot of juggling at first.”

By its second year, the program settled into Blinn’s Post Office campus, which now houses the Dental Hygiene and Veterinary Technology programs. It remained there until 2011, when it transitioned to the Texas A&M Health Science Center Clinical Building I, a state-of-the-art facility that provides hands-on experience with some of the most up-to-date radiography equipment, including the latest digital radiography software.

“It’s a program unlike any other,” Flores said. “It brings me so much joy having it seen it blossom over 25 years. We have phenomenal students and alumni and it’s an honor to celebrate accomplishments that came about because of rad tech.”

About Blinn College
A comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement, Blinn College has served its 13-county Central Texas region since 1883. With an enrollment of 19,317 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.

Blinn offers job seekers the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the region’s fast-growing industries, and partners with local businesses to provide skills development training for incumbent employees. Each year, Blinn programs and students make a $345.3 million impact on the local economy.

For more information about Blinn College and exciting student success initiatives such as Destination Success: First-Year Focus and the Blinn TEAM Program, visit www.blinn.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Audio - Shelley Pearson, Blinn College's Radiologic Technology Program director, speaks about the program's 25-year anniversary and the impact it has made on healthcare in the Brazos Valley over that span.