Patty Popp is not afraid of a challenge. And she has the career to prove it, thanks to Pima Community College.
Popp graduated from the college’s Radiologic Technology program in 2001 at age 40, 15 years after she left the work world to start a family.
Now she is Director of Clinical Operations at Radiology Ltd., overseeing eight Tucson facilities with over 180 employees.
Popp began taking Gen Ed classes at Pima in 1997-98, but had some restrictions. She had to take evening classes because of her responsibilities as a mother and as a softball coach. That meant traveling to various Pima campuses and taking classes online.
“Pima Community College is really good because of where/when classes are available. I wouldn’t have been as successful without that (flexibility).”
When she got accepted into the Radiologic Technology program she was working in the Tucson Medical Center film library. She changed her work shift to evenings to accommodate her new schedule.
Throughout the program, she was juggling job and studies. “Sometimes I’d be driving to West Campus and my daughter would be quizzing me on material for a test.”
As she neared the end of her studies, Popp needed one more Humanities class to complete the degree requirements. She chose Spanish for Medical Professionals, which was offered at the Downtown Campus.
When she arrived for the first class, the dean announced that there was no one available to teach the class and that it would be cancelled. A woman in the class, who knew the dean, spoke up and offered to teach the class. So the eight enrollees met weekly and used real-life scenarios they encountered.
“I don’t know where else that would have happened,” says Popp.
When she graduated, Popp had offers from three hospitals, but chose Radiology Ltd. because of the cross training in CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound.
Starting as an X-Ray technologist, Popp worked her way up to her current management position, which she has held since 2009.
Popp is an enthusiastic advocate—and example—for the Radiologic Technology program at Pima. She speaks to classes and oversees a Radiology Ltd. scholarship for entry-level employees who want to pursue the training and certification.
“I want to be sure the program goes on. Pima is turning out excellent radiologic technologists—not just button pushers—” who also have a finely honed sense of personal patient care.