By K. Richard Douglas
The military can be a great source for kicking off a rewarding career, whether that means remaining enlisted or eventually taking skills to the civilian side.
Jim Dlouhy, MBA, RT (R)(VI), radiology administrator in imaging services at W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Health Care System in Salisbury, North Carolina can attest to that fact.
“I first became interested in the imaging field while I was in college. I was contacted by SFC Dutch Vanderpol, a recruiter in the National Guard medical unit, based in Iowa City, who was talking to me about career opportunities,” Dlouhy remembers.
“When he started discussing the imaging field, with the civilian career opportunities, possibilities for deployments and the opportunity to go through a complete program and come out debt-free, he really caught my interest,” he says.
Dlouhy’s initial imaging training was through the military.
“I went through the Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. I first had to go through the Army Basic Training course, and then a general orientation course that they ran at the time before being allowed to move to the Imaging Specialist course,” Dlouhy says.
“The total time to complete all that was 14 months, but the course was accredited on the civilian side also. The army was able to cram all of this in because they had drill sergeants that got you up at 4:30 in the morning, did physical training, marched to breakfast, then marched everyone to the classroom for classes from 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., then a short period for supper and back to the barracks where from 6 p.m. through 10 p.m., it was mandatory study time,” Dlouhy adds.
He says that subject matter was taught in blocks, followed by testing shortly thereafter. He says that if you fell below a certain grade point average, you were transferred out of the program into a secondary MOS, which kept motivation high for most people.
After Dlouhy got out of school, he started as the supervisor of a small department in Belmond, Iowa. He was there for seven years and then took a general imaging position with Mercy Medical Center North Iowa in Mason City, Iowa.
“After a few years as a general imaging technologist, I became one of the vascular interventional technologists, working with a small team of technologists, nurses and radiologists performing a variety of challenging exams for several more years. At the same time, I was the X-ray specialist for Alpha Company, then Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 109 Medical Battalion, Iowa National Guard in Iowa City, Iowa,” he says.
Dlouhy says that he served in that capacity in Iraq in 2003 and in the 1st Support Battalion with Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt in 2008.
“I began working on my Master of Business Administration while in Egypt and completed it a few weeks before deploying to Afghanistan in 2010. While in Afghanistan I saw a job posted for the administrative position for the imaging service at the Salisbury VA Medical Center in North Carolina, which I applied for. I was fortunate enough to be selected for that position and I have been the radiology administrator for the Salisbury system since April 2012,” Dlouhy says.
Dlouhy learned his area of specialty on the job.
“My first area of specialty was vascular interventional, which I learned on the job through some very good instruction courtesy of Interventional Supervisor Angela Culliton, and a wonderfully experienced IR technologist, Luann Austin,” he says.
“I also had exceptional teaching from our interventional radiologists, especially Dr. Darius Zawierucha and Dr. Ryan Holthaus. Since taking my current position I’ve been focused on developing skills within the federal system for personnel management, equipment acquisition and program development,” Dlouhy adds.
He says that his biggest challenge is coming from a rural nonprofit environment to a federal VA system that is growing incredibly fast locally and is one of the top two VA systems for unique patients seen in the last year.
“The transition from focusing on individual patients that have a clear beginning and end to their cases to administering a multidisciplinary program in three different cities with double-digit annual growth in procedures and almost tripling our equipment inventory has been an exceptional learning experience for me,” Dlouhy says.
Great Mentors and Family
Off the job, Dlouhy enjoys marriage and life on two wheels. He also feels lucky to have been exposed to some great colleagues.
“I have been married 15 years to an exceptionally supportive and patient woman who consented to be my wife two days before I deployed to Iraq. I also have a son who has been very successfully developing a career in a custom cabinetry firm in north Iowa,” he says.
“My wife and I really enjoy camping in the mountains of North Carolina and riding our motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway,” he adds.
Dlouhy attributes his success to the people who have been his inspiration and whose standards he has emulated.
“I think the most important thing to know is that any success I’ve had has come about because of the people I’ve been privileged to know. I’ve been greatly influenced by a number of people who have very high drive to be exceptional in their quality of work, productivity, ethics, and compassion for their patients,” he says.
“This has been on both the civilian and military side. There are a lot of people I worked with that have motivated me through their examples in their daily activities. I believe having had worked with these people and learned from them has improved me personally and professionally,” Dlouhy adds.
We are sure they feel the same way.