Clark’s Passion for Cancer Patients Leads to RAD Career
Watching someone battle a disease like cancer is heart-wrenching, no matter your age. And as a 6th grader, Kayleigh Clark was no different.
What Clark didn’t know was that watching her grandmother battle the disease would one day provide her with a sense of purpose.
It was during a career day at her school when Clark realized she might be interested in the radiology field as a potential career. Having been exposed to the cancer treatment process through her grandmother, Clark realized radiology was a great way to combine her interest in the medical field and her heart towards cancer patients.
“My end goal is to do radiation treatments for patients with cancer,” Clark shared. “If I can be a person who puts a smile on a patient’s face and helps them through this awful disease, then that’s all that matters.”
Years passed and Clark’s passions remained the same. She wanted a career in radiology. When it came time to start looking at colleges and programs, a family friend encouraged Clark to consider Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) in Dublin – it was close to home and their experience with OFTC had been positive.
“But I just knew I wanted to go away for college,” she said, “to move off and be on my own. But after talking to several people and hearing how expensive their college experience was and how much debt they owed, I started looking into colleges closer to home.”
That’s when Clark started considering OFTC.
After enrolling in classes, Clark knew she made the right decision in her college choice. “One of the best attributes about OFTC is the hands-on experience you get,” she said. “It truly teaches you to use critical thinking skills in order to help prepare you for the job you might get once completing your program.”
“The instructors are also really great,” she added. “Every single one I’ve had has worked with me to help make sure I successfully complete my class and that’s not something you get at every college.”
Her education has also been affordable, which is one of the reasons she chose to stay local rather than go away. “I received the Hope Scholarship and financial aid, so all of my schooling was paid for,” Clark said.
While Clark was almost swept away by the idea of a pursuing a traditional college experience, she’s glad she gave OFTC a chance. “I want others to know that technical colleges have a lot to offer. “It’s a very diverse educational opportunity and offers a variety of degrees to students,” she shared.
Once in OFTC’s radiology program, Clark’s passion allowed her to thrive. She knew she was where she was supposed to be and was loving every minute of it.
After starting her required clinicals at Dodge County Hospital in Eastman, Clark received an offer she never expected. “I was working at my clinical site when the hospital manager approached me about my future plans once I completed the program,” Clark said. “She asked me if I was willing to work weekends and nights during school; I was open to working anything I could, and she offered me a job.”
Clark began working as a non-registered tech in the radiology department on November 16.
“This job interested me because it offers experience,” Clark said. “Yes, we get experience during clinicals but it’s not the same as when you have a job. This hospital is also really great at cross training you in modalities like CT which is a great skill to have on your resume when looking for a job.”
Still a radiology student, Clark is now forced to find greater balance as she tackles not only completing her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Radiologic Technology but also employment.
“I never thought I would be employed in this field before graduating,” Clark shared. “But it is comforting to know that I do have a job because there is always this fear of not finding a job after putting so much time and money into getting a degree.”
A Hopeful Future
Clark will graduate from OFTC in June of 2020 and plans to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) Registry Exam to become a licensed radiologic technologist shortly after. Once a registered radiologic technologist, Clark will be eligible for higher pay at the hospital.
Still, with her grandmother’s cancer experience as a form of motivation, Clark plans to continue her education at OFTC to receive her Computed Tomography (CT) Specialist certification.
“I want to work in field for a while and then go back to school to get my nuclear medicine degree so I can work with patients who are receiving radiation treatments,” she said.
A hopeful future indeed, Clark is happy she embraced opportunity even when it presented itself differently than she imagined.
“Always be open to opportunity when it comes your way,” she said. “The pay may not be the best in the world, or you might not start off with the most hours, but if you go in everyday and give it your all, you will be noticed. Sometimes you have to start off at the lowest in order to get to the highest.”