HCTC Regional X-Ray Program Coordinator Retires After 30 Years | News
Former Hazard Community and Technical College professor Homer Terry may not be a man of few words, but over the past three decades he has been a man of singular focus.
“It was never about me. It was always about the graduate and the student,” Terry said. “I wanted to make sure that the student graduated and could find a job. I’ve helped students in the middle of the night, helped fix broken down cars, etc., anything you can think of to help my students succeed,” Terry said.
The recent retiree began his tenure at the HCTC in the summer of 1991 after what many would consider to be an already full career and life.
“I grew up in Knott County and went to a one-room school, Elmrock Grade School, until I was 13,” he said. “I left home at 13 and went to Hindman Settlement School where I boarded and went to high school. I graduated in 1974,” Terry said.
Terry attended Morehead State University from 1974 to 1979, where he earned an associate’s degree in radiography and a bachelor of science. Terry worked his way through college working in the Eastern Kentucky coal mines during the summer and Christmas break. There were many shifts in the mines as he worked eight miles underground towards his goal of earning a college degree.
“I knew at the time, in the medical community, there was such a demand for radiographers. When I graduated I had five different jobs so I could work anywhere in America and I knew it,” he said.
After graduating, Terry landed a job with Hazard Appalachian Regional Healthcare, where he worked for 20 years and trained in nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, special procedures and mammography. Terry is also nationally registered in radiography, quality management and mammography.
“I’m the kind of guy who wants to know everything. I want to know everything and how to do everything,” Terry said.
Terry attended Thomas Jefferson University Sonography School in Philadelphia, Gulf Coast Institute of Sonography in St. Petersburg, Florida, and CT and advanced CT training at the University of Kentucky and Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington. After becoming one of the very first technologists to perform ultrasound and CT scans in Eastern Kentucky while at ARH, Terry began training dozens of other technologists at the same practice. It was during this time that he realized that his field was facing a major problem.
“All the time I was there, I saw how badly there was a shortage of technologists because we were working to death at the time, and I knew it. I said, God, we have to develop something for the school,” Terry said.
In the summer of 1991, the stars seemed to align for Terry when HCTC President Ed Hughes called him to teach radiography at the school. Terry said he sees this as an opportunity to give back to an area in the region from which he has gained so much during the two decades he has worked for FRW.
Within two years, Terry became director of the radiography program at the HCTC and received national accreditation for the program.
“In 1994, at the request of Dr. Hughes and Dr. Ayers of Southeast Community and Technical College, I wrote the curriculum for the program to become a regional radiography program, which means a program supported by two colleges and ITV. The HCTC program was the first program in America to be accredited as a regional radiography program using ITV distance learning in 1995,” he said. Once the program gained regional accreditation, Terry served as a mentor to many other program directors across America wishing to do the same with their programs.
Terry said those early years at the HCTC had been a whirlwind, but absolutely worth every sleepless night.
“Oh my God, it liked to kill me,” Terry said. “If I hadn’t had everyone to help me and hold my hand, this would never have happened because at that time I was a radiographer and not an educator.”
Terry used and relied on the superb administrative skills of Delcie Combs and the leadership of Donna Combs as Division President to grow and prosper the program. Terry has established clinical sites at 13 different hospitals and clinics in Eastern Kentucky and Southwestern Virginia.
During his 30 years of working with the radiography program, Terry wrote and implemented the CT certificate program at the HCTC; wrote and implemented the certificate program in MRI at Southeast Community and Technical College; continued, implemented and supervised the initial stages of the ultrasound program at the HCTC; and pursued and assisted in the hiring of a qualified coordinator for this program. Additionally, he initiated and co-authored the Articulation Agreement with Morehead State University that allowed HCTC Radiography graduates to enter directly into the MSU BS degree in Imaging Science.
Terry also served for six years on the KCTCS Board of Directors as well as six years on the HCTC Chairman’s Steering Committee. For a summer, he studied abroad in Germany and Europe as an HCTC representative and co-wrote a book called “German Studies”, which is printed worldwide in over 1,000 libraries. He earned his master’s of science degrees from the University of New Mexico and Eastern Kentucky University, and he’s served on dozens of hiring committees at the HCTC — particularly committees associated with hiring new faculty. and medical personnel.
He has also trained and mentored over 500 students to graduate from the HCTC program and gain employment upon graduation. “I’m so proud of that. We had such a huge impact in Appalachia,” he said.
“These students are nationally registered, so they can go anywhere in the United States and work. I have graduates in Puerto Rico, California, New York, Florida — everywhere,” Terry said.
“I worked so hard to make sure I had my finger on every job all the time. Everyone knew when they were calling me to get a referral for a student, they knew who to call,” Terry added.
Even as he approached retirement, Terry has not slowed down with the success of the program, achieving a 98.3% pass rate for the first attempt of all HCTC Radiography graduates at National Boards from 2018-2020 and 100% employment of all students.
“I have done a lot of work over the past 30 years,” he said, adding that he is ready to start another new adventure in his second retirement, although he remains an HCTC professor emeritus. .
Terry said he wanted the next chapter to be filled with fun that includes time with his wife and three grandchildren. He is also a licensed pilot and loves this adventure as well as boating and lots of traveling to keep him busy every day.
“Always improving my ’57 Chevy pickup, attending the British Games at Rupp, hiking the 60+ trails of Red River Gorge, attending Keeneland, The Red Mile, The Oaks and the Kentucky Derby every year, and skiing on snow in North Carolina and waterskiing at Lake Cumberland,” said Terry.