By John Wallace
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Advanced Imaging Specialist Sharon Mohammed, RT(R)CT, ARRT, is an award-winning imaging leader. She was recently recognized by AuntMinnie as the Most Effective Radiologic Sciences Educator for 2021.
In addition to her service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mohammed is also an international fellow with RAD-Aid, an organization that supports underserved areas around the world with radiology education and equipment.
One could say that her introduction to diagnostic imaging began with a phone call.
“I worked in an imaging center as a receptionist while in college,” Mohammed told ICE magazine in an exclusive interview. “I thoroughly enjoyed interaction with covering radiologists, learning about the modality and important pathologies. It seemed like the ideal career, combining academic challenge and professional rewards with doing something meaningful for others.”
“Radiology has always adopted a multidisciplinary team approach,” she added. “We are part of a team of technologists, radiologists, IT technicians and nursing staff. Working as part of that team of people is a wonderful experience.”
It is clear that she loves her job. She was quick to respond when asked why.
“I would highly recommend radiology as a career. It may not be the specialty that first jumps to mind, but there are so many different subspecialties and the diverse imaging techniques, there is sure to be a role in radiology that suits many. The demand for radiological investigation is ever increasing, so it would be reasonable to suggest the demand for technologists will increase as well,” she said. “For me, and for the technologists I work alongside, patients are more than just patients – they are people. I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families. I learn their story, where they are from, their hobbies and what they hope to get back to after recovery. Patient interaction, having an impact on the delivery of care and positive patient outcomes can be very meaningful and fulfilling.”
“It can be demanding, but I enjoy the challenge that every shift presents – the opportunity to learn and provide compassionate care is always worth the effort,” she added. “Being a technologist is a team sport. Whether I am working on the floor with colleagues or collaborating with other educators, this field gives me the feeling of being part of a team. The best thing about being a technologist is the privilege of being with people in some of their most vulnerable times. It has been a humbling privilege to share moments with the patients and their families. It is a privilege to hold the hand of a patient when it is needed most. It is a privilege to teach the technologists of tomorrow. Being a technologist is a privilege.”
Mohammed, who has led a team of Computed Tomography technologists at NYU Langone for 20 years, provided a thoughtful answer when asked about her leadership style.
“Leadership is an interesting concept. At one level, it’s massively complex. At another level, it is deceptively simple,” she explained. “There are a lot of different ways to think about and conceptualize leadership. Leadership is about building something great together. It is about thinking about the next generation of leaders: Rather than being threatened by someone down the chain with good ideas, it is about embracing them and developing them – and creating a true leadership pipeline for your organization. Leadership is about being a doer, seeking new opinions, showing support and solving problems.”
“It is about knowing you still need to grow and learn and become curious and get better at your responsibilities,” she added. “Leadership is about soft skills such as effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving, work ethic and interpersonal skills. It is about developing new skills and thinking about concepts in new ways. Most importantly, leadership is about respect. When employees are treated with respect, they tend to pay it forward to others.”
Mohammed has received guidance and insights from mentors including Omer Awan, Bradley Spieler, Justin Ream, Larry Latson, Andrew Rosenkrantz, David Bates and Lior Molvin.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable mentors who have helped me develop professionally and personally,” she said. “In my experience, mentors are a fantastic way to gain insight into where your career may lead. A strong relationship with a mentor has helped me challenge myself, to improve and grow. The relationships and lessons learned during periods of my career have had a long-lasting and positive impact.”
“They have all been extremely generous with their time, their knowledge and their willingness to help me find my way in my career,” Mohammed continued.
The next generation of imaging professionals can look to Mohammed for inspiration. She is also eager to serve as a mentor for those starting out in their career.
“I hope to be able to continue contributing to improving patient outcomes and to mentor the next generation of radiologic technologists,” she told ICE magazine. “It is a struggle to establish an environment and culture where ethnic minority women thrive and fully participate as vital members of their profession. Being a minority woman, continuing and increasing support of units and academic programs which promote intellectual as well as representational diversity I hope, will improve opportunities for underrepresented women in radiology. I am honored my perspectives and experiences, that of an ethnic minority woman are recognized, and my intellectual contributions have been highlighted. I am honored my innovative research and pedagogical techniques have been the recent spotlight on many platforms in radiology. I am hopeful it will engage other women and minorities, providing them with opportunities to continue to bring key perspectives to our profession. As an ethnic and minority woman who differs from the mainstream, I am hopeful this recognition of high professional service will positively influence career development and productivity of others.”