Pictures of Excellence: Merrill Award Winners

June 22, 2017

Nancy Stauffer and Veena Rajeevan are the first two winners of the newly-revived Merrill Award, which honors the highest quality in x-ray imaging across Emory Healthcare.

“The combination of skill and compassion we saw in these two winners’ submissions is what the Merrill Award seeks to promote and celebrate,” says Aurora Marinescu, RT(R), co-chair of the Merrill Award Selection Committee. “These first award winners highlight the great character traits and wonderful attitude towards our profession we seek to promote, particularly focus on achieving the ideal x-ray image no matter the patients' condition, compassion towards the patients we image, and understanding the crucial role our images have in the patients' care.”

April: Nancy Stauffer, RT(R)
“Beautiful,” is how the Merrill Award Selection Committee described Nancy’s x-ray exam of the tibia/fibula of a patient undergoing leg lengthening treatment to correct a limb length discrepancy. Nancy’s work stands out for both its quality and its humanity.
“The young man was going through a tibia lengthening procedure which is a very painful procedure,” she explains. “He was very stoic while I positioned and took the exposures. I wanted to get the absolute best images I could for his evaluation exam.” It required both care and expertise.

Asked about her technique, she demurs. “After a point, experience and practice just kick(ed) in: light at both ends of the limb, x-ray tube up as high as possible and table as low as possible” and the perfect image resulted. “As one of my instructors once said, you know what the image should look like, you have to use your skills and imagination to reproduce it based on what the patient can do.”

“It means quite a lot since it is a peer award,” says Stauffer, who is a radiology technologist at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center at Executive Park. “I honestly was humbled and thrilled when I found out I had won.”
Nancy has been an x-ray technologist at Emory for 12 years. “This was my first job out of school,” she explains. She credits the spirit of teamwork and shared commitment to pursuing excellence as reasons why she thrives at Emory. “The people I work with are excellent resources and don’t mind sharing their knowledge. We’ve been the Clinical Site of the Year for the past three years and one of my co-workers, Kim Landmon, has been the Technologist Educator of the Year for the past two years, so teaching is second nature to us.”

Nancy also credits Jason Smitherman, manager of radiology and her supervisor. “He not only figures out new/easier ways to image our patients, HE allows us to try new things.”
Congratulations, Nancy, for your excellence in imaging!

May: Veena Rajeeva,n RT(R)
Veena Rajeevan’s “exceptionally well positioned and exposed images of bilateral knees” earned her the Merrill Award for May. Capturing these images wasn’t easy for the veteran technologist.
“This patient was having so much difficulty moving, getting up and walking due to her swollen legs,” Veena explains. “It was a challenge getting all the views we needed, but after many years of experience in imaging, dealing with different patients and different situations, you become very creative to obtain the best possible images with what the patient can do.”

The creativity is essential, as Veena says, because “the radiologists depend on your images to make the correct diagnosis.”

A radiology supervisor for General Diagnostic Radiology/Bone Density at Winship Cancer Institute (WCI), Veena says, “Winning the Merrill Award is very special for me since my images were evaluated by other professionals. I feel very proud and at the same time really humble to receive it.”

Veena is a proud graduate of the Emory Medical Imaging Program—class of 1996. After a brief stint post-graduation at what then was Crawford Long Hospital—now Emory University Hospital Midtown—she spent six months with the Emory Clinic Breast Imaging center as a mammo tech. In June 1997, she joined General Diagnostic Radiology at Emory Clinic and never left.

Working in an academic health center plays a key role in the quality of her work, she says. “Having imaging students and residents as part of teaching institution makes your brain sharp, keeps your knowledge up to date. Also, the radiologists on site are a great source of knowledge.”

Equally important is the level of teamwork. “My coworkers have a big part in all good outcomes from our clinical site,” Veena says. “We always have great teamwork supporting each other on everything. That’s why we won Best Clinical Site of the Year for several years!”

Congratulations, Veena, for your excellence in imaging!