JULY 2014 • Vol. 3, Issue 3

Meet Your New SMRT President

Maureen N. Hood, Ph.D., R.N., R.T. (R) (MR) FSMRT

“The ideas we get from new members around the world are how we are able to grow and deliver quality MR education.”

The new SMRT President, Maureen “Mo” Hood responds to Signals.

Signals: Please describe your early MR imaging experience.
My first taste of nuclear magnetic resonance came in 1982 during organic chemistry class. The University of Puget Sound, Washington, USA, had received significant donations to purchase numerous high end pieces of science equipment, one of which was a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine for doing magnetic resonance spectroscopy. At the time, I could not figure out for the life of me why my organic chemistry professor was so enamored with NMR – it was very temperamental and I struggled with calculating chemical shift adjustments on the spectra to figure out what was in that clear vial of fluid. I really thought I’d never use NMR again. Well, wrong! After earning a BS in biology I worked as a marine biologist out in the Bering Sea for a year. While at sea, I decided to go back to school as I discovered that working on a small fishing boat in the middle of the ocean was not my idea of a good career. I decided to pick up a quick radiologic technology degree which would ensure I could find a job while I pursued a PhD in some sort of science. While studying radiologic technology in 1987, our class was notified about a job opening for a part-time receptionist at a new MRI clinic – one of the first MRI scanners in the State of Washington. No one else in my class had ever heard of magnetic resonance anything. I quickly applied and was selected for the job at Tacoma Magnetic Imaging. I couldn’t believe how much more interesting magnetic resonance was when it created images from people. Compared to x-ray, MRI was simply amazing. After a few months, I was able to arrange for an independent study class through Tacoma Community College with Terry Duggan-Jahns, and started training into MRI. The early days of MRI were very exciting. We worked hard, but had fun.

Signals: How long have you been involved with the SMRT?
In 1992, the SMRT held a Regional in Seattle, Washington. The meeting was awesome! It was by far the best healthcare seminar I had been to that actually focused on MR education. All the other societies were still mainly focused on diagnostic x-ray and CT. At that time, the specialty of MRI for these imaging societies was still the “other” box. I joined the SMRT the very next year.

Signals: Why did you decide to run for Policy Board?
Getting involved with the SMRT just seemed like the logical thing to do to as a professional in the field. I started by serving on committees. In 1996, I took a position as a full-time research technologist and moved to Maryland. I hosted an SMRT Regional Meeting in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998. The SMRT members who encouraged me the most to become active in the SMRT were Anne Sawyer and Karol Handrahan. Being involved has its merits as I was elected to the Policy Board the year I organized the Bethesda Regional. 1998 was a busy year. It was also the year I attended my first SMRT Annual Meeting, which was in Sydney, Australia. That was nerve wracking as it was my first international talk, during my first international trip, plus I had to deliver the President’s Award proffered paper. Talk about shaking in your boots! I got through it with the help and support of the SMRT policy board members, fellow attendees and Jennifer Olson, the SMRT liaison from the ISMRM Central office. After my term on the Policy Board, I went on to serve a three year term on the Executive Board as the External Liaison before taking a break to go back to school and pick up a few degrees and play some soccer.

Signals: What made you agree to run for President?
While in graduate school, I soon realized that the unique experiences I encountered while working in MRI and serving on the various committees and positions for the SMRT gave me many advantages academically. The complexity of the field of MRI and the professional networking with other health care societies helped me to excel in graduate school. Being able to travel all over the world to attend MRI meetings also instilled a better understanding for different cultures. The diversity that I’ve been able to encounter reminds me to be more open to alternative methods to accomplish projects and manage people. So when I finished my PhD and had time to unwind a bit, I felt it was finally time to quit turning down nominations for SMRT President so I could give back a bit of what the SMRT has done for me. Jennifer Olson, Maureen Ainslie, Julie Peay, Anne Sawyer, Cindy Comeau, Julie Lowe, among many others, had been talking to me for years to run for President. When Charles Stanley called me in 2012, I finally said yes. I’m glad I did as Jennifer Olson got to see me take office as President before she retired from the ISMRM central office. For people who don’t know her, Jennifer has really been the glue holding the SMRT together and helping us grow all these years. Kerry Crockett is our new ISMRM central office liaison, our “new glue” so to speak. I’m confident the SMRT will flourish and move forward with fresh ideas. I’m looking forward to trying new things to help the SMRT’s primary mission of promoting MR education around the world.

Signals: As President what do you see as the most important goal for this next year?
I actually have several important goals, but one of my main interests is in getting the SMRT more well-known through better electronic information and better marketing of our educational materials. I am happy to see that the SMRT has truly become an international organization, but the majority of MRI technologists, radiographers and nurses do not know we exist. We have put out a bylaws change to the SMRT membership to change the Publications Committee to become the Publications and Communications Committee in order to enhance the electronic portion of our communication with our members and to increase the communication among all of our people working with educational materials. The use of electronic media greatly increases our ability to reach people. The ideas we get from new members around the world are how we are able to grow and deliver quality MR education. The MR Technologist Listserve is going through some technological challenges this year. It is still a great way to change ideas and ask questions of your peers, but the SMRT is also trying to expand the use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for MRI communication.

On-line content available through the SMRT webpage has been a hit this past year and is growing. The SMRT volunteers are working hard on new material that can be accessed on-line with fast, on-line certificates for continuing education (CE). The SMRT is also applying for CE track and transfer capability to the ARRT in the United States. Simplifying the CE compliance process will be a great membership benefit that we hope will eventually spread to other countries.

We are also becoming more integrated in ISMRM activities such as global outreach, committees and study groups. We have sent technologists to Columbia, Turkey, and Mexico. Dr. John Totman, a former policy board member, who recently moved to China, has organized a couple of meetings in Singapore that the SMRT is helping to support. We are also looking at helping technologists with education in more countries. We are hoping to start SMRT chapters in all countries where we have ISMRM Chapters. Technologists from Brazil and Germany have also expressed interest in having the SMRT help them with seminars and education.

We currently have an official relationship with the MRI Safety Study Group. We have been working hard to organize a joint 3-day safety workshop 5-7 September in Washington, DC. This workshop brings together vendors, regulators, clinicians, and researchers to present and discuss safety issues in MRI. The SMRT has been instrumental in getting this workshop off the ground. The ISMRM and SMRT leadership are exploring other MR study groups to see where it is mutually beneficial for MR technologists to be more involved. I love these ideas because it will give SMRT members more opportunities to be actively involved.

Signals: What else would you like to share about you or your goals?
One unusual goal I have is to get through serving on the SMRT Executive Board without breaking any body parts. This may sound funny, but for people who know me well, this is a great goal. I’ve attended several meetings with torn tendons or right after having surgery. My last orthopedic surgery was in April of 2013 – three weeks before becoming President-elect. I attended the 2011 meeting in Montreal with a torn supraspinatus tendon while waiting for surgery. I attended the 2008 SMRT/ISMRM Meeting in Toronto on crutches just three weeks after surgery for severely breaking my right ankle in a soccer game and in the middle of my doctoral studies. I finished the PhD. And yes, I still play soccer. And yes, I’m a bit crazy. My point for sharing this is that you should never let setbacks get in the way of your success and pursuit of happiness. I often wear a flying pig on my jacket and have flying pigs in my office to remind me that since pigs can fly, anything is possible. If you want to get involved in SMRT, do it. Join a committee, run for policy board. Sometimes you may have to run for the board more than once. Don’t let a failed attempt stop you from reaching your goals. Remember - pigs can fly!