Most of the 28 newly minted Mesa College radiologic technology graduates will move directly into well-paying jobs in the health care industry in spite of industry predictions for San Diego County that paint a slow recovery for employment with no solid job growth in the foreseeable future.
The graduates will participate in a special pinning ceremony at 7 p.m., Friday, August 6, at the Gymnasium at Mesa College. The ceremony is held each August following final clinical practice commitments conducted over the summer at one of 12 major health care centers in San Diego.
After they pass certification, the graduates become will become health care professionals who administer radiologic exams including x-rays and MRIs. American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) the national average salary for a certified radiologic technologist is $53,953, but salaries in California can run higher.
Not your typical college student, those that enroll in the program are generally mid-career individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a career change.
The degree brings Michelle Pittsley, 28, of Kearny Mesa, full circle to childhood dreams of following in her dad’s career footsteps. She entered the program in 2008 with a psychology degree from UCSD and after working for several years at a title research company.
“Despite having obtained a degree from a reputable university, I lacked the two-to five years job experience necessary to compete for many jobs,” said Pittsley.
“I was having a quarter-life crisis. I wanted to work in a profession that is in demand, benefits the community, and is growing with technological advancements.”
She found a pathway to that at Mesa College. "Surviving Mesa's Radiologic Technology program while working part-time has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done,” says Ptittsley, who took out loans and applied for scholarships get her through the two-year program. She says it is serendipitous that she was offered a job at her praticum facility, the UCSD Medical Center. “A perfect fit for a UCSD alum,” she adds.
“The practicum experience is the jewel of the Mesa College program,” according to George Ochoa, Administrative Director of Ancillary Services, Scripps Mercy Hospital, one of the program’s health care partner facilities.
Others include Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Memorial Hospital, Tri-City Medical Center, Veterans Administration San Diego Medical Center, UCSD Medical Center, UCSD Thornton Hospital, and Palomar Medical Center.
The reason the Mesa College graduates have such a high placement rate is partially due to the practicum experience. “For us, it’s like a two-year interview... I know if the students are committed, if they are gentle with patients and their work habits. It makes it easy to make a hiring decision,” says Ochoa. Himself a Mesa graduate, Ochoa has hired more than 50 Mesa graduates during his 24 years at Scripps.
Persons interested in the Radiologic Technology diploma program offered at Mesa College, can call 619-388-2684 or go to www.sdmesa.edu/alliedhealth.