By Gary D. Boyd, FAHRA, FACHE
Off the Farm
Forty years ago, I was sitting in a lobby
wearing a tie and white smock starting my first day in x-ray technology
school. I was tan, my biceps were huge,
and my new colleagues thought I lived
at the beach. But no. I had moved from
the farm to the city and took two week’s
vacation before school started. I planned
on spending it with my friends and girlfriend just chilling, but my Dad bought
17 tons of hay that I had to move from
the field to the barn. That project, not
sitting on a beach, resulted in my aforementioned biceps and tan. I learned from
That was the first day of what would
be a long and fruitful career in imaging
and healthcare. For instance, I was in a
hospital based x-ray tech school and we
were paid a $200 per month stipend.
We were paid to go to school—not bad.
Although we wanted more money and
demanded an increase from the chief
technologist. I learned the word “no.”
The second year technologists and
I were training in “specials” and were
pretty good. The radiologists and tech-
nologists kept an eye on us, but we ran
the suites. One Sunday, a patient needed a
carotid angiogram and we could not find
the special’s team, so we did the proce-
dure. We were supervised by a radiologist
and did a great job, but come Monday
we heard from the special’s supervisor.
I learned about limits.
We had a brilliant neuroradiolo-
gist and it was before CT scanners were
common. He wanted one so bad and
he would talk about it endlessly. In those
days, a CT scanner was called an “EMI
Scanner” after EMI Music (of the Beatles
fame). Well, the neuroradiologist came
to work one day snickering. Apparently,
he had a dream one night about a CT
scanner and called out “EMI . . . EMI . . .”
in his sleep. His wife woke him up and
demanded to know who “Emmy” was!
He laughed about his “girlfriend” for
weeks. I learned neuroradiologists had a
good sense of humor.
We rotated working the holidays and
were required to work Christmas or
Thanksgiving. Every holiday, the CEO
did “rounds” in the department, chatted a few minutes with the techs, and
left a box of chocolates. It impressed me
that he would take the time away from
his family on a holiday. I learned about
leadership from him.
The department had the most powerful x-ray generator in town and had
a back door opening up to the parking
lot. We actually had animals brought
from the marine park to come over for
x-rays. There were dolphins that swallowed rocks, tigers with hip dysplasia,
apes with pneumonia, and alligators . . .
I can’t remember why they were x-rayed.
Once in a while, the vet would give us
free tickets to the marine park and we
had a ball. I learned to have fun with
Finally, it was time to take our ARRT
examinations. There were five of us students and we studied every night until
we were sure we knew everything and
were ready. However, I finished the test
and was sure that I failed. The questions
were hard and confusing. When my test
arrived, though, I was okay—I scored
100%! I learned about confidence.
When I graduated from x-ray school
I got a job near home. One day, we were
sitting around a conference table when a
new supervisor was introduced. He stood
up, threw coffee all over the table, and
said “I will do anything to get the work
done.” I learned about bad management.
And I learned about how to get rid of a
This past year, I was sick. Hundreds
of friends and colleagues sent me cards
or flowers. They were appreciated, but
the time seemed endless. A few people
stuck with me and visited me at home,
called on the phone, sent emails, took me
to Rotary meetings, hiked with me, and
just hung out with me. I learned about
real friends, including my AHRA friends!
This is my 40th year “off the farm.” Wow.
I have been involved in imaging and
healthcare the entire time.