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Grad finds another family, unique career in radiography

The plan was to never touch a needle.

Instead Katie Sharrock thought she was bound for the University of Virginia with the goal of being a pediatrician who had her own outpatient clinic.

“Now I don’t work with anyone under the age of 18, I work in an in-patient hospital, and I put needles in people all day long,” Sharrock said. “I love what I do.”

Sharrock has the radiography program at Tidewater Community College to thank.

“I’ve had a lot of procedures done on me, and I know the difference between someone who comes in and talks to you and gives you the right amount of numbing medication versus someone who comes in, introduces themselves, gives you a tiny bit of numbing medicine, and it hurts. I tell my patients all the time that I want to use as much as they need, not as much as I think they need. If I can do a lumbar puncture or a thoracentesis and they say, ‘You’re done?’ that’s what I’m all about.”

The high-achieving Cox High School student embraced learning even as a toddler when her father would push the swing and rattle off the cranial nerves to her or withhold a cookie until she could find the country he named on the map in the pantry. As a senior, she was part of a gifted program at EVMS that allowed her to dissect cadavers. But as much as she loved science, she was also passionate about film and detoured by earning her bachelor’s from James Madison University in that area.

A job at Dominion Pictures in Suffolk followed before a brief move to Alabama, where Sharrock worked at a daycare. That’s when “My favorite little girl got cancer, and I said, ‘I have to work with kids who have cancer,’” Sharrock said.

Revisiting her initial goal, Sharrock began tackling the pre-requisites at TCC and then discovered the radiography program.

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “It was concise, and the professors – I loved them. They were all very easy to talk to. If you ever had questions, and I’m one who asks a lot, they were always available.”

After completing her radiography requirements during the day, Sharrock continued to prepare for EVMS by finishing off her chemistry and biology pre-requisites at night at TCC.

These days Sharrock works alongside many of her TCC classmates who also found employment at Sentara. Several of her former clinical instructors are colleagues.

“I’m so comfortable here in radiology,” she said. “I already had a family before I came.”

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