During this time of the year, we often focus our attention on finding the “perfect” gift to give to our friends, family members and even our pets! We spend a great deal of time, and often expense, in the process. We think about the gift itself and how we will wrap it, anticipating if the recipient will be delighted with both. Or, if we run out of time, we pop the gift into a holiday gift bag (thank goodness!) that we saved from last year. (Hot Tip: You can iron wrinkled tissue paper on very low heat, if you are desperate!)
When I was much younger, Santa would bring us books and chemistry sets... and yes, of course, the “Tiny Tears” dolls (and in later years, Barbie dolls). But I couldn’t figure out why he would not just bring the “good stuff... TOYS! Another gift that I did not understand, and frankly annoyed me, was one I got from my Nana. She was my elderly (in my eyes, ancient) grandmother who would give our family a subscription to National Geographic every year. Ugh! An educational magazine? Even sending a dollar in an envelope would be better! As I got older, I realized that she was giving me and my family the gift of education and exposure to worlds that were far beyond my childhood, suburban Chicago home.
It was in one of those magazines where I first saw breasts on women from different tribal nations, where their chest was not covered and whose uncovering was considered natural and beautiful. Little did I know that, while this was my first exposure to the “world of breasts" that over the next 60 years, I would see (and position) thousands of breasts, some that looked like those I saw in the magazine and others that looked very different. And this was where my education about breasts had begun. I am sure my Nana had no idea where her gift would lead me in life!
So, education as a gift? My childhood self cringes, but perhaps it is worth a look from the perspective of personal and professional growth. Yes, we must meet ARRT requirements every two years (and always seem to be scrambling to do so!), but in this time of almost all virtual education, this should not be difficult or a "chore”. Maybe it’s me, but I get excited listening to world class experts talk about the newest technology and updates on screening. I love reading articles written by breast imaging experts about how to improve image quality. I get excited reviewing the tips and ideas that many of our 8,500+ followers post on our Quality Breast Imagers Facebook group page. And I cannot wait for our next (free!) webinar to learn something from world class speakers. Even at the age of 73, I still love learning. That is one of the best gifts I have been given.
My work in many developing countries has helped give me some perspective on this kind of “gift”. Education, especially for women, is viewed as a privilege. Many times, there is nothing beyond a basic radiology course for technologists, so they are eager to learn and every little piece of information that is shared, is treasured. There are no mammography classes, required or not. Perhaps it is the scarcity of resources that makes them even seem more valuable? Living in the Unites States, a country that is so rich in educational resources, we often do not stop to think about the value of education.
One of the goals of Mammography Educators is to provide practical and applicable, quality education. We have hundreds of free resources on our website. As mentioned above, we offer free webinars almost every month, as well as a full catalog of online lectures and educational programs that are available, with a click of a button, to help you grow as a breast imager. I truly hope you find them all to be valuable.
It is also important to remember the value of friendship and camaraderie that comes with being part of this special and unique Sisterhood (and Brotherhood) of Breast Imaging Professionals. We learn so much from each other, in so many ways. This, like education, are the true gifts in life. As we continue celebrating this holiday season, I hope you will all be able to see the special gifts around you and hold them for the treasures that they are. Sometimes, we need to change our focus, but they are there... shining so brightly, even amid the daily stress and negativity that can be so prevalent in today’s world.
Below are just some of the many highlights Mammography Educators has in sharing, and receiving, the gift of education and friendship from around the world. THANK YOU to the thousands of technologists we have had the privilege of sharing this gift with.