Donor Wants To Help Others Strive for Excellence

Aug. 23, 2016

Michael_Ward_450Joining the Profession

Even as a little boy, Michael Ward, Ph.D., R.T.(R), FASRT, was interested in science and in learning how things worked. It was this interest that led him to the radiologic sciences profession.

“When I was in high school, I stumbled across some x-ray technology brochures,” he said. “I learned what professionals in x-ray did and was fascinated by what I found. I immediately started looking for schools in my area.”

In 1974, at age 18, Michael was accepted into a hospital-based program offered by Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University. While in school, he began to see the value of getting involved with professional organizations. He joined the local St. Louis chapter of the Missouri Society of Radiologic Technologists, which is the Fourth District society, and participated in the student paper competitions and attended meetings.

Shortly after becoming a registered radiologic technologist in radiography in 1976, he began running for office at the local level and would later hold offices at the state, national and international levels of the profession.

Involvement in Professional Societies

After becoming a registered R.T., Michael joined the ASRT. “I felt it was important to be active in the national professional organization representing me and my chosen profession, as well as in the state organization,” he said.

He knew right away that he didn’t want to be just another member of the Society. “I saw the abundant opportunities to make a difference and be a part of something bigger than my personal interests,” he said. “I tend to be a joiner anyway, but the Fourth District, the MoSRT and the ASRT became such an important part of who I am and what I really enjoy doing. There was nowhere else that I could go and see so many people who I had so much in common with and who had similar interests and focal points.”

One memory that stands out for Michael was an MoSRT meeting in 1974. “I was a first-year x-ray student and Armand Diaz, the radiology department director at my school, was giving a lecture,” he said. “He wore a triangular medallion around his neck that hung from a yellow and blue ribbon. I asked the technologist next to me what it was and found out it was a Fellow medallion.”

After learning what that meant, Michael remembers saying, “I’m going to get one of those,” only half joking. A short 14 years later, in 1988, his half-hearted comment came true as he became an ASRT Fellow.

During those 14 years, Michael was very active at the state level. “I held several offices at the affiliate level, including treasurer and vice president,” he said. “I also served twice as president and chairman of the board for the MoSRT.”

A year before he was elevated to Fellow with the ASRT, he was presented the Mallinckrodt Award of Excellence for his service to the affiliate. He was honored by MoSRT with Life Membership in 1995, and in 2015 was recognized as one of the first five MoSRT members to be elevated to Fellow status in that society.

Nationally, Michael has been involved with the ASRT in various aspects during his career. He has served on the ASRT Board of Directors as vice president, president-elect, president and chairman of the board. In 1996 he was selected as the Hartman Memorial Lecturer, and in June 2011 was awarded the ASRT’s highest honor, Life Member.

He also was appointed to the ASRT Foundation Board of Trustees and served as chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2003. In addition, he was on the board of directors of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology for six years and served as chairman for three.

Internationally, Michael served on the board of management for the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists, representing the United States radiologic sciences community. In 2010 he was elected ISRRT president — the first American to be elected to the position — and served a four-year term. Before being elected to the presidency, he served seven years on the board as the regional director for the Americas.

Michael credits his extensive involvement in the profession to several people. “I owe a debt of gratitude to Norm and Barb Hente, Armand Diaz, Gary Brink and Darryl McKay,” he said. “They provided me with encouragement and mentorship, pushing me forward in my career and helping me get more involved in the profession. In their own way, each one helped me know that I had it in me to be a leader and to engage in being a part of something great.”

Advancing in the Profession

“I have worked in a variety of capacities in the medical imaging profession,” Michael said. “I was a staff technologist in general diagnostics, a senior staff technologist and a clinical instructor before moving into education full time to serve as assistant program director for Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College hospital-based program.”

While he was advancing in his career, Michael continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree in radiologic science from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

Both degrees helped him take another big step on his career path. “After finishing my master’s degree, I served as chief technologist of quality assurance and as director of technical education with the department of radiology for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.”

He later went on to earn his doctorate in higher education administration from St. Louis University. His strong experience and advanced degrees led him into higher education, where he has held several positions over the past 20 years. He currently is vice dean of student affairs and diversity and professor for Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College.

The Need To Give Back

“I began donating to the ASRT Foundation more than 18 years ago,” Michael said. “I saw the impact the Foundation has on other’s lives in the profession. The radiologic technology profession, and the ASRT in particular, has given me so much, and I wanted to help give others the same opportunities I’ve had throughout my career.”

From his time spent on the Foundation board, Michael understood what went on behind the scenes well enough to be able to identify the needs of the R.T. community, as well as how donated funds should be handled to address those needs. This knowledge was part of the reason he decided to donate to the Celebration Campaign.

“I have come to understand the need to give back to society and the need to be an example to others,” he said. “If I can demonstrate to friends and colleagues that I can give, perhaps others will step up and say ‘I can do it, too.’”

His biggest piece of advice to others is, “Giving a little or a lot doesn’t matter; just start somewhere and realize that you’re doing something big to help other medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals.”