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I Am Navy Medicine – and Radiologic Technologist – HM1 (FMF/SW) Gregory DeShields Jr.

09 November 2023

From Douglas Stutz

By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer – For those who might have wondered how vital radiologic technologists are to patient care and healthcare safety, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Gregory DeShields Jr. has a ready reply.“Very important. We are the first line of defense for physicians, nurses, patients, and health care
By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer – For those who might have wondered how vital radiologic technologists are to patient care and healthcare safety, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Gregory DeShields Jr. has a ready reply.

“Very important. We are the first line of defense for physicians, nurses, patients, and health care providers. The images that we produce can be the difference between identifying a correct pathology or a misdiagnosis. We must demonstrate patience, knowledge of our jobs and a high degree of attention-to-detail,” explained Deshields, currently assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton Radiology Department.

“Patients are our passion, safety is our priority” is the theme for National Radiologic Technologist Week being held November 11-15, 2023, and echoes the sentiment of Deshields for his chosen career path.

“Radiology is a field that I am passionate about. The diversity and tremendous amount of opportunity the field provides are two factors that attracted me the most,” explained Deshields, from Woodbridge, Virginia and a Gar-Field Senior High School 2004 alumnus as well as a Purdue University Global 2021 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. “Also, to be very honest as well, having this skillset pays very well on the outside, especially if you transcend to a modality such as CT [computed tomography], MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] and intravenous radiology. The field of radiology offers a variety of opportunities.”

Deshields, with his nearly 14 years of Navy service, and the rest of NHB’s Radiology Department staff provide medical imaging services using such modalities as computed tomography, diagnostic radiography, mammography/breast imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, radiation health and ultrasound. They support the majority of the hospital, specifically the Urgent Care Center, Main Operating Rooms, Orthopedics, and branch health clinics located on Naval Base Kitsap Bangor and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

The workload for Radiology Department can be measured by compiled statistics from the previous year. There were 19,130 total diagnostic exams conducted in 2022, which included [all number approximate] 9,800 x-rays, 1,015 diagnostic CT exams, 115 cone beam CT scans, 1,640 mammograms, 1,450 MRI, 1,812 ultrasounds, 908 x-rays for Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Bangor, 1,250 x-rays for NMRTC Bremerton Puget Sound Naval Shipyard detachment x-rays and another 1,140 x-rays were handled at NMRTU Everett x-rays.

Yet perhaps the most challenging aspect for DeShields and other radiologic technologists is simply staying up to date on the ever changing complexities and advances in their chosen field.

“Having to consistently stay on track with the information [can be difficult]. Not only is the information diverse and intricate, but we have to be privy to all of the advances in technology, in addition to staying homed in our craft,” said DeShields, also noting that there is a sense of achievement in handling all the responsibilities associated with his position.

“Despite challenges we may face, we know that we contribute to our patient’s health, wellness and well-being. That is gratifying to me. In addition, I feel accomplished as a radiologic technologist because this field reminds me of the hard work, dedication and desire it took to develop the craft. To be successful in this field, you must work hard and have humility,” stated DeShields, adding that there aren’t really any normal, typical work shifts.

“In this field, there is not an average day,” continued DeShields. “The days are unknown and fluctuate, especially with patient volume. If I’m not performing my duties as a rad tech, I’m doing my best to contribute to the command as positively as I can.”

DeShields has a host of collateral duties that he somehow manages to squeeze in, such as command Sexual Assault Prevention and Response lead victim advocate, Navy ShipShape program facilitator, and Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions mentor.

He is also willing to find the time to share with other Sailors because he ardently believes they should consider becoming a radiologic technologist.

“This field not only offers an abundance of opportunity and growth, but once a corpsman is out of the military, they have a proven skillset that they are able to sustain their lifestyle plus more. In addition, the income is lucrative and worth the investment,” said DeShields, who has already provided guidance to more than a few Sailors in helping them succeed.

It’s the time spent in being a mentor and leader for other Sailors which has been a highlight of his time in the Navy.

“The best part of my career has been witnessing former Sailors under my charges prospering in the military and as civilians. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to provide mentorship as well as the amount of networking I’ve been able to accomplish as well,” said DeShields.

DeShields interest in a career with Navy Medicine initially began in 2008 after conversing with a Navy recruiter in Atlanta.

“Between attending college and pursuing aspirations to be a musician was not panning out. I wanted better for myself,” related DeShields, from the metro D.C. area with a passion for music which led him in Atlanta, and a few other locales. “The opportunity was there for travel, expand my network and enhance my knowledge within the medical field. Prior to the military, I worked a variety of jobs, moved a lot and had to always adapt to new situations. I was that person who was never afraid to attempt new things and take calculated risks to better my future.”

Navy Medicine has taken DeShields to a scattering of duty stations stateside in Maryland, Virginia, California, Texas, Hawaii, and Washington, as well as overseas on Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) and deployments to Jordan, Djibouti, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Japan.

When asked to sum up his experience with Navy Medicine, DeShields replied, “expect the unexpected and prepare today as best you can for tomorrow is unknown.”

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