Tom, Senior MRI Technologist at MGH

Meet Tom Hocking, Senior MRI Technologist at MGH

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, my name is Tom Hocking and I am a Senior Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist in the Diagnostic Imaging Department at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH).

What motivated you to join MGH?

I came to MGH in 1987 as a student enrolled in the Radiography Program at the Toronto Institute of Medical Technology, which is now known as the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

MGH was the only hospital I wanted to do my clinical training at because I felt connected to it and to the East York community. I was born at MGH and so was my mother. I grew up in the area and I have fond memories from when I was young of my mother who worked as a volunteer in the cafeteria.

My dentist suggested I pursue X-ray technology as a career after they heard I was colour blind. I am thankful for that suggestion as it led me to this very rewarding career path and many opportunities at MGH over the last 35 years.

What types of learning, mentorship or professional development opportunities have you had the opportunity to pursue since joining MGH?         

Since joining MGH, I have had many opportunities for professional development.

The most significant would be when I decided to go back to school to learn MRI. It was an 18-month part-time course that allowed me to continue to work full-time and go to classes on the weekends.

The biggest challenge was that I needed to take a three-month leave of absence to do my clinical training at another facility. Thanks to the overwhelming support of management, I was able to complete my training and still retain my position at MGH.

I have also had the opportunity to go to the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. This is an annual forum that spotlights industry presentations and demonstrations featuring the latest products, innovations and solutions and comprehensive education. This helped keep me up-to-date on the latest medical imaging technology.

I am very grateful for the 2SLGTBQIA+ learning session offered to all staff at MGH. This opportunity has helped me better understand terminology and how I can give the best care when imaging members of the 2SLGTBQIA+ community.

In addition, the hospital has provided me with several leadership courses which I have found very useful in my role as the Senior MRI Technologist.

I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable mentorship that I have received throughout my career from our radiologists, especially Dr. Michael Gildiner (former Interventional Radiologist), Dr. Martin Nathanson (former Chief Radiologist) and Dr. Aaron Glickman (current Chief Radiologist).

Can you share your career path at MGH?

1987: My career path at MGH started when I was a radiography student. The Diagnostic Imaging Department had a position open as a Darkroom Technologist. This was a great opportunity for me as a student to work part-time during my training and to make some money, while also being able to further my knowledge in the field through observation.

1988 to 1989: After graduating, I was excited to be hired as a Junior X-ray Technologist. It wasn’t long before a position in the Computerized Tomography (CT) and Special Procedures Area opened. I was interested in advancing my skills and knowledge in cross-section anatomy and specializing in complicated procedures such as angiograms. I applied and started this new role in 1989.

2002: I completed my education in MRI and the timing was perfect as MGH announced the approved funding to acquire their first MRI machine.

2003: I was hired as the very first MRI Technologist at MGH. In this new role I was tasked with the difficult challenge of creating the hospital’s MRI Department. I was involved in every aspect from the ground up.

This included the design and layout of the department, the purchase of a 1.5 Tesla GE MRI scanner and the development of safety protocols, policies and procedures. It was extremely rewarding to see this all come together and to allow MGH to offer this amazing diagnostic technology to the East York community.

What motivates or inspires you?

I have seen many changes over my 35 years at MGH. I have faced many, many challenges, but I am still happy to come to work every day.

I feel really lucky and fortunate to have chosen a career that I truly love.

What is most rewarding is helping my patients get through what might be one of the scariest, difficult and challenging times in their life. I feel with my empathetic and caring approach, mixed with my humour and wit, I can be someone who can make a positive difference for my patients and their families when coming to MGH.

I enjoy my role as a Senior MRI Technologist to help teach, mentor and provide good leadership to my colleagues. I value all that they teach me as well. I feel supported by management and their understanding of the daily challenges faced in the MRI Department. This helps me do my job with confidence and autonomy.

If you could share one memorable moment from your time at MGH, what stands out to you?

Cynthia and Tom Hocking, each standing with a hand over their heart.
Cynthia and Tom met at MGH and fell in love.

I have many memorable moments since joining the organization in 1987. These would include: playing hockey for the “Staff in Need Fund” against the NHL old timers, performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” karaoke with my peers at the post-SARS staff appreciation picnic, the boat cruises, holiday parties and of course all the great food offered over the years.

My favourite memory is from 1995 when Diagnostic Imaging presented their version of “The Price is Right” to celebrate “Million Dollar Day”. We wanted to thank the MGH Foundation for their success in raising the million dollars needed to purchase a new state-of-the-art Angiography Suite.

We set up in the cafeteria and I played the part as host Bart Barker and had fun with our contestants. We had games using props such as a bedpan, “Barker’s girls” dressed in pink lead aprons, and pretend prizes. We even had pretend money with the face of our CEO at the time on it.

The best and most memorable moment for me, though, is that MGH is where I fell in love and met my wife, Cynthia!

I am proud of all of my accomplishments that I have achieved working at MGH and I am proud to say that I have worked my entire career here. I feel well-respected within the organization and I am grateful for all the relationships I have developed with employees from other departments.

I feel a strong sense of family among the coworkers I see and interact with on a daily basis. That feeling of family support allows me to come to work every day with a positive attitude and is what inspires me to provide quality patient care.

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