This story was provided by Paula Bennett.
In the 11 years that I have worked in ultrasound at Cincinnati Children’s, I have been asked numerous times by patients and parents, “Where did you go to school to learn to do this?” They are generally asking out of interest for a possible career choice and curious which of the colleges in the Cincinnati area offer such programs. They are all surprised by my answer: “I was trained in the Army.”
When I graduated from college, I was at a crossroads and the opportunity of enlisting in the Army presented itself. Up to that point in my life, I had not once thought about joining the military or having a career in the medical field. It made sense at the time and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made.
After much debate over which field to specialize in, I enlisted to become a radiology specialist (x-ray tech). Once I had completed eight weeks of basic training “boot camp,” I began my medical training at the US Army Medical Department Center & School Academy of Health Sciences in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. During my year of training, I received my National Emergency Medical Technician – Basic certificate and graduated from both the Combat Medic Training course as well as the Radiology Specialist course.
My first, and only, duty station was at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington. For a year, I worked as the lead tech for the orthopedic clinic at the hospital. Those days were busy. I truly learned what fast-paced work was. When I say that I was the lead tech, I was also the only tech. I had a PCA to assist with the paperwork and my average 10-hour day consisted of about 90 patients. It was a non-stop, on-you- feet-beginning-to-end kind of day.
When an opportunity to train in the ultrasound department became available, I quickly accepted. I looked forward to the challenge of learning something new and I wasn’t disappointed. I completed all of my ultrasound training on the job, and after a year I was ready to take my certification exams. I continued working in ultrasound over the next couple of years, increasing my knowledge and experience. During that time I realized how much I enjoyed working with kids, and my future goal began to evolve into working at a pediatric hospital.
The six years that I spent in the military also gave me experience in balancing many parts of my life–my family, my daily job, as well as additional soldier duties, such as physical training, company formations, weapons qualifications, barracks guard duty, etc.
After I finished my enlistment, my family and I relocated to the Cincinnati area where I have been fortunate enough to work with fabulous people in a field that continuously keeps me challenged. I’m proud to be a part of Cincinnati Children’s. Although my decision to join the military was unexpected at the time, it was this decision that gave me the skills and training that led me on the path to where I am today.