By Ms. Rachael Tolliver-IRAHC PAOJuly 16, 2018
Trust is an important part of any job. But sometimes that trust is easier built when two people have been working together for as long as Gabriele Buchanan and Derrick Taylor have.
The duo, who are MRI technicians at Ireland Army Health Clinic on Fort Knox, have known each other through work for almost 20 years. Buchanan said that she and Taylor met during clinical rotations while still in x-ray school.
"Our first tour of duty was in a facility call Stoney Brook MRI," Taylor explained. "Here Gabi was our champion--she lead our team while I was her technician. Our second endeavor together was the University Of Louisville Hospital. This is where the real training began--we were tasked with many trauma situational studies while also being available for the residential candidates."
Before IRAHC built is current MRI department, such services were contracted. When the facility decided to build its own clinic, Taylor and Buchanan saw the job openings and applied.
"I was working at the VA and UofL hospital at that time," Buchanan explained. "I applied for it and was almost immediately called for an interview-- the process was really fast since they wanted to get the MRI 'up and going.'"
Taylor also applied and both started in 2009.
While Taylor enjoys what he called "a treasure trunk full of hobbies," from sports, to cooking and gardening, to his favorite -- remote control aircraft, Buchanan enjoys time with her grandchildren, traveling and hanging out by their pool around family and friends. All of these are things they have learned about each other over the years.
Because they have known each other for so long they are in-tune to how each other works, see the same importance behind tasks and treat their coworkers and patients the same way--with respect.
Their noncommissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Robert Puente, said these are all reasons he enjoys working with the pair.
"The best part of being an NCOIC in the MRI clinic is the interaction with their wealth of knowledge, and (learning of) the professional and personal experiences throughout their careers," he said. "After getting to know them, and finding out that they have worked together for 20 plus years--about ten of them at Ireland, it was astounding… to have this kind of knowledge base, leadership and experience in one place--20 years together cannot be taught in a school."
He added that as a new person coming in, his MRI team made him feel welcome and, "kind of like going to your friends grandparents' house--you don't know them but they treat you like you are family."
Puente noted that another benefit of overseeing a well-functioning team like Buchanan and Taylor is that when something such as putting in work orders or contacting vendors needs to be done, they have already done it and sent him a note before he knows of the problem.
"They have amazing rapport with the vendors and reps, due to their MRI careers in and outside of the organization," he explained. "They do it so they can place the patient first."
In fact, putting the patient first getting to know them is their favorite part of the job. For example, they said they routinely add patients to an already-booked schedule so they can accommodate patient's needs--whether it is a scan before retiring, or changing duty stations, or before a surgery. In this way sometimes they see things in an MRI that would have been missed had they not taken a little extra time.
"We have a lot of long-time patients, and it's good see them every time they come in," Taylor said. "I tell them all that whenever they're there in my care--they are the most important person at that time, and I'm always there to listen."
The formula for a good working relationship requires one more ingredient, one that isn't easy to earn.
"Trust is a key element in the workplace," Buchanan noted. " Co-workers need to be able to rely on each other and be dependable. Derrick is great with patients and staff and he always goes above and beyond."
And both said they understand the importance of working with someone who knows how to approach the other when something goes wrong at home or at work.
"I told Gabriele when we were in college, that we're going to grow old together--not knowing that we truly are," Taylor remembered. "I thank Jesus Christ for including her in my journey, and for being my friend to the end; but today is not the end friend."
Puente said when the MRI clinic schedules repeat patients for the same team it's usually because they had such a good experience the first time they want the same technicians the second time. And, he added, that speaks volumes for his staff.
"To my best recollection the word 'no' or 'I can't' is not in their vocabulary," he said. "They love what they do and I am proud to have them on the team."
"I use sports acronyms a lot, but they are varsity, all day every day."