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Rising Star: Nelida Trout-Lacy

By John Wallace

Nelida Trout-Lacy, R.T. (MR)(ARRT), holds a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic imaging and is the radiology manager at Watsonville Community Hospital in California.

Her imaging journey began, and continues to be fueled by her amazement of physics.

“Honestly, I am still amazed at how physics work to produce an image. To see someone’s anatomy from the inside out. I am amazed at how images are produced not only to see anatomy but physiology through nuclear medicine. I am excited to see how technology will continue to expand to better serve our patients’ diagnostic needs,” Trout-Lacy said. It is a journey that has not been easy, but it is rewarding.

ICE recently found out more about this rising star via a question-and-answer session.

Q: Where did you grow up? Or, where are you from?

A: I am originally from Mazatlán, Mexico and grew up in the rural community of Watsonville, California.

Q: Where did you receive your imaging training/education?

A: In June of 2019, I received my Associates of Science degree in MRI. I quickly enrolled in the Bachelor’s of Science in diagnostic imaging program with an emphasis in leadership and completed the course in August of 2021.

Q: How did you first decide to start working in imaging?

A: I decided to begin my career in imaging back in 1999. I was employed as a radiology clerk then moved up to radiology tech assistant where my passion for imaging developed as I saw students go through rotations at our facility and further develop their skills. I was introduced to the different branches of imaging and the technology aspect within the field of MRI enticed me. At this point in my life, I was a young mother, and I did not feel it was feasible for me to pursue a career in diagnostic imaging. However, layoffs within our department gave me the time and opportunity to return to school. This is when I was introduced to the MRI program at Gurnick Academy

Frankly, the situation was less than perfect. The first semester of the program I was in the middle of a divorce, and I was recovering from back surgery. Time was limited and I even found myself doing homework while admitted for back surgery. Life only continued to grow more complicated for me and my family. My first few months of clinicals my mother was going through a series of surgeries, and I was present for all of them. I am an only child, and because of this it was important I be present for my mother as she was enduring one of the most difficult times in her life. My days were spent commuting back and forth between clinical sites, home and my mother’s hospital bed. As mentioned previously, the circumstances in my life were not ideal, and if you asked me today, “Would you do it again knowing what you would need to overcome?” I would say, “No.” However, I now understand circumstances will never be perfect to pursue dreams. And so, my advice will always be to take that leap of faith and do the best that you can with what you are given. I continue to learn to navigate through circumstances to grow and reach my goals.

I decided to continue my education and signed up for the bachelor’s program at Gurnick Academy. While doing the accelerated bachelor’s program I worked full time at two different sites (15-hour days). 

This was a long journey and reader thank you for bearing with me this long. As I was approaching finals for my last semester in the bachelor’s program, my manager extended an offer to me as the radiology manager contingent on the completion of my degree. I look back and view this situation as another classic case of being at the right place, at the right time. I joined the leadership team right after graduation and it has been a humbling experience indeed. Every day, I am presented with opportunities to learn something new. For example, I recently experienced my first CDPH, and MQSA inspection and am going through my first ACR for MRI. All of course perfectly executed surveys … mmmmm … yeah, no! Despite the unknown variable encountered with any new obstacle, I have been able to see growth through every challenge. I am grateful to God that I have been given this opportunity. Going forward, I hope I can help others reach their goals as so many before me guided me toward achieving mine.

Q: What do you like most about your position? 

A: I am excited when I see my team’s patients thank them for being treated well. It is important to me to remember to treat our patients not as a procedure but as a person who needs the best care we can provide. I get excited to see my team flourish. Our hospital and department are going through challenges, but seeing the team join forces really encourages me to do all I can to lead them into an environment they want to continue to be a part of.

Q: What interests you the most about the imaging field? 

A: I appreciate the fact that the imaging field is so expansive and diverse. There are many branches to this field and every branch has its beauty in helping our providers better understand the best course of treatment for their patient. 

Q: What goals do you have for yourself in the next 5 years? 

A: In the next five years I hope to become an imaging director and have begun my journey into a master’s degree in healthcare administration with an emphasis in diagnostic imaging. •




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