What’s My Line?
Health Care Spawns New and Diverse Careers
When you think of people who work in hospitals, your first thought is probably of doctors and nurses scurrying through hospital corridors. But, doctors and nurses combined make up less than 50 percent of Anne Arundel Health System’s 2,400 employees. With the explosion in technology, RNs and MDs in a hospital setting have become increasingly specialized. Some fields now have subspecialties and sub-subspecialties. At hospitals across the nation, entirely new fields in health care have emerged. Jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago are now an integral part of health care. This same growth in hospital technology also has spawned new careers for support staff—those who may not have hands-on interaction with patients. Here’s a look at just a few newer, non-traditional roles that are vital parts of AAHS.
Dosimetrists are members of the radiation oncology team responsible for designing a treatment plan based on the radiation oncologist’s prescription for radiation. “The challenge and reward of our profession,” said dosimetrist Evelyn LaGana-McLucas, CMD, RT (R)(T) “is to create a plan of treatment that does minimal damage to the healthy tissues, while delivering a dose of radiation lethal to the target tissues. When the patient has a complete response to treatment, with little or no adverse side effects, that’s when we pat ourselves on the back.” She, along with fellow dosimetrists Cori Ashton, RT (T), and Donna Kessel, RT (R)(T), work with the radiation oncologists who prescribe the radiation and the medical physicists who oversee their work. They use a combination of skills, such as geometry, physics, anatomy, and algebra to plan and simulate the radiation dose on the computer screen before the patient is treated. With the advancement of diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, such as MRI, PET-CT, and Novalis, which have helped revolutionize the ability to deliver radiation to tumors previously untreatable, dosimetry has become its own science.
Radiology Technologist Dan Kennedy, RT (R) CV, says his job as a cardiovascular radiology technologist is to assist physicians in “bringing in a patient, finding out what’s wrong and fixing it so they leave in much better condition than when they arrived.” He scrubs with the physicians in Interventional Radiology and assists in diagnostic and therapeutic angiography, biliary and nephrostomy, and pain management procedures. He said, “I was trained as a radiology technician in the military, and have become certified in cardiovascular technology. The technology keeps changing so it keeps things fresh. I assist the physician and monitor the equipment, while the nurses take care of the patients.”
Internist Titus Abraham, M.D., says working as a hospitalist is rewarding for a number of reasons. He said, “I like the challenge of working with sicker patients. I like the faster pace. I also like working a regular shift, so that when you’re off, you’re off.” He is one of nine full-time physicians who serve as hospitalists at AAMC, providing around-the-clock medical expertise to the inpatient population. “My job is to take care of the inpatient population. I admit patients, do medical consults with surgical patients, answer questions from family members, and coordinate care for the patient.” The term “hospitalist” is only about eight years old and describes a shift in the way hospitals now collaborate with physicians. Dr. Abraham said that over the last few years, federal and state regulatory issues, the high cost of insurance, the increase in the number of sicker people due to the aging population and the more sophisticated technology in the hospital setting have contributed to the need for around-the-clock medical expertise.
Director of Development
Larry Haskell is Director of Development for the AAMC Foundation. He coordinates the activities of the Foundation, helps develop donor relations, raises funds for hospital equipment and such special programs as the Outreach Center and the Nursing Scholarship Fund. “Fundraising for a hospital is really selling a social product. The nice thing about hospitals is that you can readily see the results of your work,” he said. Mr. Haskell was a consultant for AAMC’s cancer campaign a few years ago, and this June helped organize the dedication of the DeCesaris Cancer Institute, made possible through more than $9 million in gifts from the community. He said, “Everyone at some point turns to hospitals for care. Working in the Foundation is another way of serving your community.”
No matter what Adventure Therapist Mark Sakraida might list as a job requirement, if you’re going to do his job, you better feel comfortable dangling from a rope 50 feet in the air. As a member of the team at Pathways, AAMC’s drug and alcohol addiction program on Riva Road in Annapolis, Mr. Sakraida uses an Outward Bound philosophy to help patients overcome addiction. “I use games, activities and a challenge course to help teach patients to work with others, to trust others and themselves, and to problem solve—especially regarding addiction and alcohol. And I try to show them they can have fun without using drugs or alcohol.” With a B.S. degree in criminal justice, and a M.A. in Human Resources and in Management, Mr. Sakraida came to Pathways as an admissions counselor when the facility opened in 1992. Soon after, the challenge course lured him away from his desk job. After completing the ropes course facilitator training, he accepted the adventure therapist position. “I teach the patients how to get to a better place in life. Adventure Therapy helps patients recognize their behaviors and attitudes, and shows them how to change them to help in their recovery,” he said.
Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist Stephen Olexo, M.D., works five or six 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shifts a month as an intensivist at AAMC. Similar to hospitalists, intensivists admit and take care of patients; however, they function primarily in the Intensive Care Unit managing some of the sickest patients in the hospital. “I get satisfaction working with the sickest patients and watching them improve. As an intensivist, I need to have a good grasp of every specialty in medicine and in turn, I get to manage the care of the whole body. However, it is comforting to know other specialists are there when needed. Being able to call a specialist and say, ?Here’s what’s going on and I think we need to intervene now with a particular procedure,’ assists the patient in getting what he or she needs quickly.” He says this system gives patients much better outcomes and allows those caring for them to see immediate results. Dr. Olexo has specialty training with many of the latest technologies at AAMC. He said, "Knowing that these technologies are here allows us to provide the best possible care for our patients."
To learn more about career opportunities at AAMC, visit www.askAAMC.org and click on "Jobs at AAMC."
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