By John Wallace
As a radiology applications specialist, he supports new application implementations, upgrades and existing customer support by developing educational plans, implementing training strategies and overall customer empowerment. Smith says that he collaborates with physicians, technologists, clinicians, IT administrators, support staff and internal customers to promote product support and end-user success. He explains that he is responsible for making the customer the application expert.
It is not unusual for a son to follow in his father’s footsteps, but children often want to strike out on their own and experience a different career field. For Smith, it was a hybrid experience that led him to become a radiology applications specialist and an imaging leader.
“I am a second-generation medical imaging professional. My father entered the field in the late ’80s. The profession was always intriguing, but I wanted to go my own path,” Smith explains. “I eventually entered the radiologic technology program at Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) and later Midwestern State University. The relationships I built as a student, technologist and advocate – in addition to my upbringing – propelled me into my journey toward professionalism, advocacy and community. Medical imaging became my career and an integral part of my purpose.”
The decision to enter the imaging field is one that continues to pay dividends.
“I am empowered by the opportunity to represent and celebrate ‘us.’ By ‘us,’ I mean medical imaging professionals and therapists as exceptional contributors to health care. Not in contrast to others associated with the field, but in collaboration,” Smith says. “Our modalities make us unique, but our profession makes us unified. We are one profession. I believe championing such an idea promotes a synergy elevating patient care and the communities we serve. I leap at the opportunity to articulate who we are, what we do and celebrate the expertise of my colleagues.”
“As a person and professional, I love to impress and demonstrate our value in complement to those we work alongside. I work across teams to show how our talents are transferrable, not limited, to any one sector: health care, business, academia or industry,” Smith says.
Mentors have helped shape the way Smith approaches his work, as well as his leadership style.
“Three mentors who come to mind are Marlon Hickman, Debbie Callais and J. Alexander. Each mentor has added and continues to add, to my versatility as a person and professional. Hickman elevated my thinking to better understand the sacrifices of true service. Servant leadership can be thankless, taxing and lacking in support, but the conviction of purpose is self-sustaining. The work is intended to benefit community success more than self-gratification,” Smith says. “Callais coached me in comprehensive leadership. Own the problem and share the reward. She was a phenomenal director who mentored me to understand high-scale accountability, redefining confrontational as a positive attribute and being decisive in consideration of all impacted. Alexander challenges me regularly to appreciate my brand and the power of visibility to effectively articulate the message. She does not take excuses and prioritizes the celebration of others.”
“All of which have contributed to my enthusiasm and unwavering dedication to empower others,” he adds. “My sense of community is a result of being a product of my community’s investment in me. Anything I contribute to the communities I serve are what I owe as a member of those communities. This is a value I lead off with to those I mentor. Becoming a mentor has been one of the most intimidating yet meaningful obligations I have faced. My goal is simply to give them the science of what I have learned and allow them to champion the art of how they create new legacies, achievements and inspirations.”
He described his leadership style as, “Manage processes and promote people.”
“My focus is to facilitate an environment for team success through effective processes and support,” he explains. “The promotion of people describes encouraging and helping develop talent, empowering people to be champions of tasks, projects, and initiatives, and employing accountability as a coaching strategy, a positive approach to corrective action. My goal is to align with those I support toward their vision of success as individuals and a team, reciprocally.”
Smith adds that “collaboration is more than a buzzword.”
“Its essence is based on a shareholder’s culture where opportunities are earned, qualifications are met and our talents can complement more than compete,” he says. “The celebration of the success of others is not a discount of anyone else. Integrated solutions and interdisciplinary teams collaborating achieve more. As a medical imaging professional, I am an enthusiast of all the modalities of my profession and the other professions we work alongside. When I am not the expert in a scenario, I champion the opportunity to promote those who are whenever it applies in hopes of the same consideration.”
Smith also mentioned a fourth mentor.
“Dr. Michael Ward has been an incredible mentor and voice of reason. He has been a major part of my development as a leader in medical imaging. His sound advice and eloquent approach is nothing less than remarkable,” he says.
Family plays a meaningful role in Smith’s life.
“Family is a choice. It is more than being related; but the decision we make to be there for each other. I am blessed with an incredible family and friends who are family. My amazing wife, Megan and three sons, Laiden, Baylor, and Shaun are who I aim to make proud more than anything else. They inspire me every day to love on purpose, with purpose,” he explains.
Looking toward the future, a third-generation imaging professional from Smith’s family would not be a surprise.
“My oldest son, 12 years old at the time, wanted to attend a presentation I delivered to a group of professionals and students. He was interested in learning more about what I do and why I traveled so often. I figured he would be bored out of his mind. He sat front and center as I spoke to the crowd,” Smith says when asked about his greatest achievement. “Afterwards, he waited patiently as I met and conversed with several attendees. A colleague explained to my son my role in the state of Texas as an advocacy leader and her thoughts about my leadership. My son met many people who wanted to talk to him about his dad that day.”
“On the ride back home, he told me he was proud of me. We had a conversation about the importance of being accountable for others and always contributing your best to community,” he adds. “Among many notable things I have been privileged to experience, that experience meant more to me than any other achievement: to show my son who I am as a medical imaging professional and impress upon him the honor of serving our profession.”