James Dockery finds calling in cardiovascular technology

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James Dockery, Class of 2003, has always had a passion for the health care field, but it took Northeast State fledging Cardiovascular Invasive Technology Program to kick-start his career.

James is currently clinical supervisor at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital for the admit/recovery unit, the cardiac catheterization lab, and the electrophysiology lab – managing 85 employees and working with more than 35 physicians.

“Even going back to high school, I knew health care was going to be my field, I just didn’t quite know which area I wanted to specialize in,” James said. “I tried some retail and construction jobs for a while, but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do – I found that every medical TV show I watched drew me in and I wanted to diagnose the ailment. I knew I had to get into health care.”

In 2001, James started researching possible career fields and was intrigued by Northeast State’s invasive and non-invasive cardiovascular programs, which were launched in 1999. He scheduled a meeting with director Connie Marshall (she’s now dean of Health-Related Professions) and knew he’d found a career field with the invasive component.

“My experience was phenomenal and I really enjoyed it,” James said. “The college did a tremendous job of setting up that program in a short period of time. Connie Marshall was a great motivator and one of the best instructors I’ve ever encountered.”

James praised the program for its small classes and one-on-one attention, and noted that every instructor had a failure-is-not-an-option attitude, going above and beyond to ensure students mastered the material.

After graduation, James landed a position with the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in the cardiovascular lab. After five years, he transitioned to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, a 488-bed facility with more than 4,000 employees and 1,100 physicians.

“I loved everything about Piedmont from the start – the way they treated their patients, the employees, the physicians – I knew this was the place for me – it had everything I was looking for,” James said.

About a year ago, James moved into his current supervisory role, which involves administrative oversight of operations, staff, and physician-related issues.

“My job, along with a clinical manager, is to resolve issues and keep operations moving at a good pace,” James said.

Without a doubt, the new position has added value to his professional satisfaction with the cardiovascular technology field.

“I’m really enjoying the administrative part of it. I like to lead and take charge and see things improved. I like to be a morale builder and mentor people with their work, troubles, and trials,” James said, noting that he will pursue other administrative opportunities should they arise.

James is a definite advocate for Northeast State and cardiovascular technology as a career.

“Cardiovascular technology is a very rewarding field to go into whether invasive or non-invasive – to deal with sick patients and see the immediate result of what you and the cardiologist can do to improve their health is truly rewarding – I’ve gained so much from choosing that pathway,” James said. “For Northeast State to step out and offer this degree program when it was the only one offered in the whole state, was phenomenal.”

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