When Rita Lesniewski, Sycamore, was in grade school, she babysat for the Simone family. Joni Simone, the Mom, would share stories about her job and those stories stuck with Rita through high school. “I never knew what her actual job title was but I thought it had something to do with ultrasound,” Rita recalled. “When I made the decision to continue my education at Kishwaukee College, I knew they had a Radiology Program. Turns out it was the same program Joni Simone had once attended. In one of my clinicals, I worked hand-in-hand with the lead Computed Tomography Tech and it was Joni! I am grateful to Joni for being such an inspiring role model!”
When Rita began her journey at Kish, she discovered the same thing that many Radiologic Tech students discover: it is not that simple. “Everyone thinks that x-ray is just pressing a button and then all of the sudden you have a beautiful diagnostic picture for the doctor to see,” she explained. “Well, let me tell you, it is so much more. Each part of your body can be viewed in multiple positioning aspects for the doctor to view anatomy at different angles.”
By the time other specialized procedures are added to the mix – like surgeries requiring an 8-foot machine or fluoroscopy exams involving patient ingested dyes or even working on cases for the coroner – Radiologic Tech is revealed as a large and expansive field. Rita added, “That’s is why I love radiography, it has such a variety of things you can do.”
Besides classroom instruction, the program involves clinical experiences in a rotation of settings. Rita has had clinicals at Valley West Hospital, Kishwaukee Hospital, KishHealth System Physician Group, and, currently, Rush Copley in Aurora. She said, “Clinicals have been my favorite aspect of the program. I have seen my biggest development and learning curve in the clinical program. The experience is invaluable and nothing can ever measure up to the critical thinking and patient care knowledge you gain. Each site is very unique.”
Rita’s enthusiasm for the program extends to being the second year student representative on the Radiologic Advisory Board at Kishwaukee College. Many programs at Kish have Advisory Boards comprised of professionals in the field who can offer their experience and expertise to the program to make sure it remains cutting edge. Rita has found the experience to be one that has made her respect the profession even more. “I attend Advisory Committee meetings with the clinical instructors from each hospital, my teachers, and Bette Chilton (Dean of the Health & Education division),” she explained. “I have come to greatly appreciate the time the CIs (Clinical Instructors) have put into helping students succeed. All of them go out of their way to make sure we are heading in the right direction and, if we need help, it is kindly given.”
What does the future hold for Rita? “My long term career goal would be to become a registered Cardiac Interventional Technologist or an Ultrasound Technician – I hope to feel 100% certain of my choice in the next few months,” she said. “But right now, the most challenging part of the program is coming up: studying for the registry exam through ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists). It takes self-motivation to start studying!”
Rita Lesniewski has always seen with x-ray clarity where her future leads. She will graduate in May, with her Radiologic Technology degree and be helping patients for many years to come. And perhaps she will inspire one or two of them…just as Joni Simone inspired her so many years ago.
Pictured is Rita at her clinical practice site, Rush Copley in Aurora.