Tom and Cynthia Hocking

#IamMGH - Meet Tom and Cynthia Hocking

#IamMGH tells the stories of our people. In celebration of MRT (Medical Radiation Technologists) Week, we would like to introduce you to Tom Hocking, senior MRI technologist and Cynthia Hocking, senior x-ray technologist. Tom and Cynthia met at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) more than 30 years ago and have been married for 27 years. Tom and Cynthia have a strong connection to the hospital and have spent their entire careers here. This is their story.

How did you both meet?

Cynthia: Tom and I met in 1987 when he came to MGH to do a placement. I had been working at the hospital for a year already as an x-ray technologist when he started his training. Over time we became friends and that eventually grew into a romantic relationship.

Tom: I was born and raised in East York and my mother had been a volunteer here so I already had an affinity to this hospital. Who knew then that this would be the place I would meet my future spouse!

What made you both want to be MRTs?

Cynthia: I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare. I met a radiologist during high school and he told me about the Radiography program at Eastern Ontario School of X-ray in Kingston, Ontario. I thought it sounded like a good fit for me. Shortly after I finished school, MGH got its first CT scanner and was hiring for a full time position so I applied for the job and moved to Toronto.

Tom: My story is a little different. I’m actually colour blind! I asked my dentist if he knew of any careers where seeing colours didn’t matter and he suggested working with x-rays. So I took his advice and did the Radiography Program at the Toronto Institute of Medical Technology (now renamed Michener Institute) and did a placement at MGH through that program. I worked as an x-ray technologist  for a year and a half and then progressed to CT and special procedures where I worked for almost 13 years. In 2002, I heard MGH was going to be getting an MRI machine so I went back to school to do the necessary courses and got the opportunity to start working as the first MRI technologist at MGH.

What are some of the similarities and differences in your respective roles working with MRIs and X-rays?

Cynthia: The primary difference is how we acquire our images. X-ray technologists use radiation, whereas MRI technologists use a very strong magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to produce their images.

Tom: What is similar with both of our roles is how we connect patients and their physicians. We work directly with patients to get the necessary medical images so that a radiologist or physician can make a diagnosis and identify what kind of treatment a patient needs. We bring the two together.

What do you both enjoy about your respective roles?

Cynthia: There are so many parts about my job that I enjoy! I love caring for patients and their families when they come to our department for an x-ray or a procedure. I love the variety of an x-ray technologist’s job. We go to various areas within the hospital such as urology, endoscopy, emergency, the Special Care Nursery and the OR and take portable x-rays on the floors for patients that are unable to come to our department. There is an artistic side to how we ‘paint a picture’ with the correct positioning of the machine, patient, and exposure in order for the radiologist to make a diagnosis. I also love to teach and mentor incoming radiography students and was appointed as the clinical coordinator for the Michener Institute of Education here at MGH last year. I feel so lucky and fortunate to have such a rewarding career!

Tom: I’m a people person so I love that my role allows me to meet so many different people every day. I like the fact that I’m constantly seeing new faces and hearing peoples’ stories. Every person is likely to need some type of diagnostic imaging in their life so you come across a great variety of individuals. I also love anatomy so I really love looking over the images we produce. It’s not always great to see abnormalities in a person’s MRI, but there is something really rewarding about seeing patients come back for updated imaging only to see that they have improved and healed. It’s one of the highlights of my job!

Both of you have spent a cumulative 60-plus years at MGH. What made you want to spend the majority of your careers at this hospital?

Cynthia: For me, it’s that family feeling I get when I walk into work that makes me love MGH. It’s the small town community feeling which reminds me of home.  We can’t walk down the halls without running into someone we know. It’s a great feeling to be able to speak to someone you know and catch up on their lives and their families. I feel so lucky with the relationships I’ve formed here – I’ve met some of my best friends at MGH! I will be retiring at the end of next month and will miss everyone!

Tom: Over the years, I have had a lot of positive feedback and that has made me feel like a respected member of this hospital. My mother was born here, I was born here and both of our daughters were born at this hospital too. I am an East Yorker and love the community which is why Cynthia and I bought our home close to the hospital. The funny thing is even though Cynthia and I work in the same department, we often don’t see each other except for maybe a quick run-in in the halls or when we can occasionally eat lunch together. We’ve had so much time to get to know our colleagues, both in and outside of our team, and build strong connections and relationships. So you get a real sense of community and belonging that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

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