By K. Richard Douglas
Sometimes a series of events can lead a person to a place and profession that was not preplanned or expected. And, sometimes things just work out for the best.
Kimmerley “Kim” Pulver is a clinical engineering technician senior, imaging with Rochester Regional Health System in Rochester, New York. Her road to becoming an imaging service professional brought her from the military to where she is today.
“I was in the Navy for 13 years. In the military, I was an ocean system technician maintainer for antisubmarine warfare equipment, doing repair and preventive maintenance on electronic equipment and hardware,” Pulver says.
“I excelled in my field and became an instructor at the training facility in Norfolk, Virginia. I achieved the rank of E6 in the military, but was not making E7, and an overseas rotation without my kids was coming up, so I got out,” she says.
Before entering the Navy, she had attended Eastern Michigan University and earned a degree from Gavilan College through the military.
After leaving the Navy, Pulver went to work for GE Government Services in Norfolk and after a year with them, and most of it spent at sea with two infant children at home, her former husband said she needed a new job.
“GE Medical Systems had an MRI/CT engineer opening in Rochester, New York, which is where my ex-husband was from, so I transferred to try and save the marriage and stay home more. This started my transition into the medical field. I had completed my electronics degree in the military and GE Medical trained me in the MRI and CT field from A to Z,” Pulver says.
She spent nearly the whole first year with GE Healthcare going through their MRI and CT training in Milwaukee.
“My first marriage failed shortly after. Back then, they really did train the field engineers to repair/install systems. We could ramp/shim/fill MRIs and troubleshot MRI/CT systems to component level. I worked for GE in field service repair for 16 years in the Rochester/Buffalo area doing MRI/CT service,” Pulver says.
During that period, Pulver saw the job of field service changing drastically, including longer hours, more driving and greater workload.
“At this time I looked to Rochester General in-house to become a biomed tech. Going in-house was quite a change. Reporting to the same site every day at first seem strange, but I found that no two days were ever the same in a hospital biomed department, just as it wasn’t in the field,” Pulver says.
Figuring it Out
Pulver’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Earlier in her career, she was named Top Honor Recruit of her graduating class in January of 1984. She also won a management award from GE for outstanding customer service to the Mobile Imaging Service in 2006.
Although Pulver is GE-trained on MRI, CT, ultrasound and patient monitoring and Philips-trained on Allura Aper cardiac cath labs and digital diagnostic systems, there is no amount of training that can change stature.
Pulver says that one challenge has always been “being a female in a male dominated modality such as MRI.”
“A lot of having to prove yourself, [is] not only in the intellectual department but on the physical side. Gradient or RF amplifier changes were met with skepticism at first as to whether I would be up to the physical challenges involved,” she says.
“Keep in mind, I am all of four foot, eleven and 125 pounds, but luckily most of that is muscle. Once you prove you can push, pull, hoist and shove a crate and a heavy electronic component into its place, I guess your step goes up the ladder a little bit,” Pulver adds.
She says that the same goes for the CT modality with tube and DAS changes. She explained that once you do it on your own and prove you can, your stock goes up.
She has also learned that when powerful magnets are involved, a gun isn’t the best object to enter this environment.
“Many challenges in this profession over the years, each in retrospect, just look like another day in the life of an imaging technician,” Pulver says.
“I have removed oxygen tanks that have flown into magnets due to a split second lapse of monitoring on a site, taken a call to remove a police officer’s service revolver from the bore of a magnet that had become lodged and fired in the process, had a floor cleaner sucked into the magnet because the janitor wanted to get that last speck of dirt just inside the magnet room door. All of these incidents required careful ramping of the magnet down to extract the items and repair the unit back to normal,” she adds.
Pulver also believes that there are steps that can be taken to mitigate any occurrence of MRI “white pixel.”
“[During] every PM, we run our testing and that is the one test I dread the results of because I know that if it fails, I could be looking at weeks of troubleshooting ahead. For that reason, I do a lot of extra service work on my systems that GE does not now feel is required, but years ago we used to check all the time on PMs,” Pulver says.
“I schedule the day before my official PM to clean the bore of my magnet out of metal, and that includes lifting the bridge, vacuuming [the] dock assembly and taping all metal shavings out of the front and back of magnet face. I believe that helps eliminate rattling sources of metal, regardless of size, that can cause white pixel. I believe this is why my system performance and image quality on my systems are outstanding,” she adds.
The Post-Military Life
When not on the job, Pulver enjoys travel with her husband, who is retired. They have started to attend NASCAR races annually together and enjoy taking cruises.
“I met my current husband, Larry Pulver, while I was in the Navy Reserves in Rochester. We have been together 25 years; married 18. He is retired military. My two sons, Raymond and Daniel Zimmer, were both in the Air Force. One is still active reserve. I have two step-children that live in Florida. Katie Reed, who has given us two grandchildren, Hunter and Chessie, and Joshua Pulver (married to Katherine) that gave us Jonathan and Branigan,” Pulver says.
This imaging specialist is proof that career and personal transitions can turn out very well.