A Proactive Approach To Giving Back

Robin Anderson, contract writer
Jul. 29, 2014

ASRT Scholarship EndowmentRichard S. Kay, Ph.D., R.T.(R)(M), FASRT, CRadP, MSRP, was the first R.T. to approach the ASRT Foundation to set up a scholarship endowment. He wanted to create lasting support for students that would serve as a testament to his life-long devotion to the radiologic sciences and the professionals he worked with along the way.

That proactive approach to giving back to a profession that Richard considers a calling is just one aspect of this radiographer, mammographer, veterinary imaging specialist and businessman.

“I believe that education is vital in maintaining the profession,” says Richard.

He started late in radiologic technology, at age 22, after trying out several other jobs that just didn’t appeal to his adventuresome spirit. “Radiologic technology had everything that appealed to me. It had education and patient contact,” says Richard. “I had had other jobs before. I didn’t go to college right out of high school. But I always wanted to be something in the medical profession. I wanted something where I could deal with patients on a one-to-one and face-to-face basis.”

After researching the medical field and professions at the local library, Richard applied to several programs in radiography. “And lo and behold, I was accepted by the first one.” The desire to ensure that patients knew they were recognized and taken care of led to Richard signing on as the first male student in a program at Albany General Hospital School of Radiologic Technology in Oregon, which up until then accepted only two students a year.

“At that time the profession was predominantly female. Now, there are more male nurses and technologists,” says Richard. “But I was the first male student, and I never looked back. Once I got into it, I was convinced I had made the right decision. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

As a student, he was required to join the local and national radiologic sciences societies, he says. Richard credits Bessie M. Reynolds for getting him involved in the overall profession. “She was a brilliant instructor. She shaped how we thought about the profession and made sure we were members.”

For the first few months, the students stood by the technologists, watched and learned. Formal classes were in the afternoon. Richard says. “After six months of training, you were taking call at night and being paid cash wages. It wasn’t like today where students have a little bit of radiology, a little bit of MRI, a little bit of CT scanning and interventional,” he says. “You worked five to six days a week, three or four hours in the morning, with patients and three or four hours of class in the afternoon. And all we learned was radiography, because back in those days, that was all there was to learn.”

In this way, Ms. Reynolds made sure that the students could work with patients and provide quality exams.  Even working alone after six months, “I was still learning,” he says.

For his initial work after graduation, he preferred smaller rural hospitals, “I did not like the larger medical centers because you were stuck in a room all day.”

As Richard’s work history shows, he invested his time in helping out through professional and civic organizations and pursued education in many forms. Although Richard started out as a shy child who wouldn’t raise his hand in class, the radiologic sciences community helped him grow into an entrepreneur. Through his interaction with colleagues, patients and customers, he created a business that focused on lectures in physics, radiation safety and veterinary radiology.

The Pursuit of Knowledge

With regard to education, he pursued continued learning wholeheartedly. As he became involved in the local Oregon Society of Radiologic Technology, serving as an officer and volunteer, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the Columbia Pacific University School of Health and Human Services.

Then, as he worked on his master’s and doctorate degrees in health sciences, Richard served as a volunteer firefighter for 14 years and a reserve deputy sheriff for five. Giving back also involved an extra stint volunteering for a boating group in Seattle that provides public education and classes.

His mantra is, “You have to give back.” Throughout his professional journey, Richard sought new horizons and a way to use what he had learned to aid humans and animals.

In the 80s, he transitioned to veterinary radiography. “I started looking for another job, seeing what was out there, and lo and behold they were advertising at Oregon State University for a radiologic technologist for the veterinary program,” says Richard. “All the U.S. veterinary colleges have a registered radiologic technologist in their radiology departments.” It helped that Richard also knew how to care for horses, because they were the main patients at the school. “I had horses in Madras, Ore., and at that time the university had only large animals. So I was the only one who had the qualifications and they hired me.”

Fast-forward over a decade, when Richard started an educational consulting business in response to budget cuts at the institution. “That is how I came to start my own business. I hired this woman from U.C. Davis and started producing seminars in radiology and was lecturing everywhere around the country.”

 He also hired veterinary technicians and professors in emergency medicine, pharmacology, surgery, laboratory and dental – all of the aspects of veterinary medicine that required continuing education.

Richard maintained his Registry credentials and radiography skills during this time. After moving to Seattle, he discovered there was a shortage of radiologic technologists and decided to begin working again in medical clinics there. “So I worked in human medicine two days a week and lectured on the weekends.”


Richard’s enthusiasm for life and the profession shine through everything he does. He also acknowledges the gift his chosen profession represents. “It’s not the highest paying profession in the world, but I never wanted for anything because I couldn’t afford it,” says Richard, “When I got into the profession, it seemed like a good one, but it turned out to be one of the most wonderful professions. It fulfilled all my needs as far as working and enjoying life, and allowing me to enjoy life.”

He and his wife, a librarian who is contributing to a scholarship at her university, talked over giving money from their wills to fund endowments. “So now others can contribute to a scholarship fund at the ASRT that will help our colleagues shape their own careers,” Richard says.