By K. Richard Douglas
The people of South Mississippi are provided health care services by the Hattiesburg Clinic, based in the city of Hattiesburg.
The clinic first opened its doors on May 1, 1963. Today, the clinic has grown to over 300 physicians and providers, caring for patients in more than 18 counties in South Mississippi.
The radiology service department at the clinic is managed by Donna Parker.
Parker took the patient route to an imaging career. She saw the skill it took for a radiology tech to perform their job firsthand when she was a patient.
“Honestly, I was a passenger in an automobile accident in college and my experience in the hospital X-ray department sparked my interest. I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to do. The technologist was professional and I was impressed by the skill it took to operate the equipment,” Parker remembers.
She began her professional training to achieve that goal.
“I graduated from the Jones County Junior College School of Radiologic Technology, in conjunction with South Central Medical Center in Laurel, Mississippi, in 1985. I began working as a registered Radiologic Technologist immediately after graduation at a rural county hospital where I worked for two years, then moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is my current location at Hattiesburg Clinic PA,” Parker says.
She eventually began to specialize before becoming an imaging manager.
“I continued to learn the different aspects of radiology and settled into nuclear medicine (NM). After relocating to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and working under a nuclear medicine radiologist for five years, I sat for my nuclear medicine registry exam and became a registered nuclear medicine technologist,” Parker says.
“After several years I transferred back to Hattiesburg where I became the lead nuclear medicine technologist at Hattiesburg Clinic. In 2006; I was instrumental in the selection and purchase of the area’s first installed PET/CT system. I continued to help build a valuable PET/CT department which has now grown to a high producing and servicing modality. In January of 2008, I was asked to become the imaging manager which includes a Breast Center of Excellence,” she adds.
Parker says that the imaging department encompasses a variety of equipment including two MRI systems, one nuclear medicine system, one PET/CT system, two general ultrasound systems, two CAT scan systems, three digital X-ray systems and the Breast Center includes one MRI, one stereotactic biopsy system, two ultrasound systems, one densitometry system and five 3D mammographic units.
The move to management came out of insights and a drive to make things better.
“As a staff NM technologist, I experienced a few manager changes and an instability in morale amongst staff that I found unsettling. Through much prayer and consideration, I found myself with the desire to help my coworkers who I had come to love and respect. As part of the staff team; I knew what the staff needed and had ideas of how to help them resolve issues and provide the means through technology and schedules to make things better. I felt confident that I could help because I understood their frustrations,” Parker says.
“I am currently responsible for 86 amazingly talented employees who are dedicated to providing excellence in customer service. We believe every person deserves the best possible health care service with professional, registered technologists and up-to-date technology,” Parker says.
She says that she always wanted to be of service to others through “taking pictures.”
“I have been at this current outpatient physician’s office for 21 years now. For the first 10 years, I held the lead nuclear medicine and PET CT technologist position and truly loved it. For 11 years now, I have been the imaging manager and we have had tremendous growth in staff, technology and an expansion of the physical department. I credit our providers and the amazing imaging staff with where we are now and I look forward to more of the same,” Parker says.
Love What You Do
Along the way, there have been a few challenges that have aided career growth and knowledge-through-doing.
“Planning and budgeting a 20,000-square-foot department addition without disturbing workflow, negotiating and the purchasing of multiple modality equipment [and] learning the human resources aspect of management and chains of command for processes was interesting,” Parker says.
“Now at 10 years later for many projects; I am at the point of updating and replacing equipment. I’ve found that it is a never-ending process to maintain quality and satisfaction,” Parker says.
“I believe the secret is surrounding yourself with qualified professional people that understand the facility vision and don’t mind working hard toward it,” she adds.
Away from work, Parker enjoys travel; by plane, train and car.
“I enjoy exploring cities and different parts of the country and meeting new people. I am a hardy reader who enjoys science fiction interlaced with romance. My husband and I try to take a yearly road trip across the country or along the beautiful coasts,” she says.
Her family includes two grown sons.
“I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 34 years. We have two boys, 29 and 23 years old. The older son is a bank vice president with two sons and an amazing wife. The 23-year-old graduated college with a degree in kinesiology and is now attending nursing school. We have been very blessed throughout our lives together so far,” Parker says.
There has been some recognition also, including the Medical Support Employee of the Year award and an Oscar award from her manager peers for mentoring and guidance.
Parker’s philosophy provides some insight into her success.
“I truly believe you should continuously learn and be involved in your field in order to stay excited and ‘in love’ with what you do. It’s not easy to negotiate, to satisfy or to accept failures but it makes you who you are. Every person you come in contact with is important in some way. If you believe this; you will succeed,” she says.