Newman alumni share passion for helping cancer patients

Apr 07, 2022
radiology technologists

The Newman University radiologic technology program has been going strong since the 1990s. The program offers an associate degree, which can be valuable on its own, or can be a starting point for continued education, focusing beyond a career as a radiologic technologist professional.

We recently caught up with three Newman alumni who work at the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center in Wichita, Kansas. All say they love their jobs and find inspiration and fulfillment every day.

Carly’s Story

Carly Kraus ‘07 said she chose radiologic technology because, as an athlete, she has had many X-rays and MRIs done over the years. Seeing imaging firsthand piqued her interest in a future career in the field.

Kraus said Newman prepared her well for her career.

“All the clinical time that the program requires you to do at the hospital is what prepared me for my success in X-ray,” she explained. “It may seem like a lot of extra hours that the program wants you to complete, but those hours at the hospital will be the ones that truly help you learn how to clinically and critically think outside the box.”

Carly Kraus

Working with patients at the cancer center is Kraus’s favorite part of the job. She enjoys getting to know them and celebrating with them. 

“You are their cheerleader and part of their support system,” she said. “You laugh, dance and sing with them. You also cry with them, hug them and console them. They become a part of your life, just like you become a part of theirs.”

Even though she experiences sad days, she holds dear to the beautiful moments and relationships that are built. Knowing she’s there for someone in one of their darkest moments is humbling, she said.

Kraus added that radiation therapy in a clinic setting is a great career for those with families. She and her husband have a set routine of getting their children to and from places and appointments. And although she is on call at times, it is rare that she has to work late.

Working in the clinic also provides the opportunity to build relationships with co-workers, which leads to a great workplace atmosphere. She has met some of her best friends at work.

“People who are in radiation therapy are a different kind of breed. I think you have to be. We are super passionate but also pretty goofy. My job is to make my patients feel loved, comfortable and at ease. Having co-workers who make that easy on a daily basis make coming to work fun.”

Claudia’s Story

Claudia Lamp ‘19 loved the challenge of the Newman University radiologic technology program because it helped prepare her to handle stress and to adapt in groups.

Her original plan was to stay in X-ray, but after doing clinicals for several weeks, she said radiation therapy became her passion.

“My favorite part of working with cancer patients is being able to be a patient’s personal cheerleader,” explained Lamp. “I love being the reason that a patient was able to wake up every day and come to get another treatment. When they tell me that I was able to make them laugh while they’re going through one of the most difficult times of their life, that makes it all worth it.”

Claudia Lamp

Her favorite part of the job is watching patients, with their family and friends there for support, ring the bell at the end of their treatment.

Lamp hopes to one day become a traveling radiation therapist, knowing that would take her out of her boundaries and give her an opportunity to increase her knowledge of the variety of treatment machines and methods available.

“I am excited about the constant innovation in radiation therapy. I feel like we are always learning more and more about cancer and how to best treat it with radiation. I love that we have gone from treating certain breast cancers with 20 treatments to only five treatments, for example.”

Courtney’s Story

Courtney (Silsby) Allen ‘12 said the small class sizes and being close to home were two reasons she chose Newman University. Allen was also a member of the cross country team at Newman and loved the camaraderie she developed with her fellow classmates and teammates.

Courtney (Silsby) Allen

She chose radiologic technology, with a specific goal of working with cancer patients, because of personal experience. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34. Allen said nothing is more rewarding than helping people when they are going through their most challenging times.

“I love to see their strength and focus on beating a terrible disease,” said Allen. “I have seen the most positive people fight the most difficult battles. I have seen loss as well, with the most beautiful gift of communities coming together to help them along the way. We have an amazing team and I am so honored to help patients navigate this journey.”

As a mom, Allen wants to demonstrate to her boys that she can have a successful career while raising her family. With equal support from her husband, the couple makes day-to-day life fun and rewarding. 

“My kids are so proud of me and they inspire me to do my best each day. It’s comforting to come home to a household of support. While it can be challenging at times, it is completely worth every second to handle both a career and family.”

Advice for current students

Going through any higher education program can be a daunting yet rewarding journey. Kraus, Lamp and Allen all had some advice for students who are working their way through a radiologic technology program.

Kraus said students should explore different modalities of the profession, even if they aren’t interested in pursuing certain ones.  

“The more knowledge you have about each modality, the more it will help you,” said Kraus. “They all coincide with one another in some way. For example, if I have a patient who tells me they are getting a swallowing study done, I know what that will entail. If a patient tells me they have a PET scan before treatment, then I know they will still be radioactive by the time they get to me and can take whatever measures I need to.”

Courtney, Carly and Claudia participate in a tour of the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center for Jeffery Vaughn, director of the radiologic technology program at Newman University.

Lamp strongly recommends radiation therapy if a student’s main goal is connecting with patients and making a difference over long periods of time.

“It can be an emotionally taxing field to be in, but the pros strongly outweigh the cons. If you decide to stay in radiologic technology or if you decide to go into another modality, never lose your light. Sometimes you’ll get tired and you’ll wonder if you’re making a difference, but you are. You are able to bring so much joy to people in some of their scariest times. Keep on this path and don’t doubt yourself.”

Allen agreed and added, “Stay positive and learn all aspects of the job. You never know what field you will be drawn toward until you observe all the fields possible.”

Earn a radiologic technology degree

The radiologic technology degree at our private university empowers graduates by giving them the skills necessary to be a highly valued employee through providing high quality, compassionate patient care.