Turn challenges into opportunities, says Debbie Gilley, an IAEA radiation protection specialist

Turn challenges into opportunities, says Debbie Gilley, an IAEA radiation protection specialist



Gilley’s first career was as a radiology technologist – a medical professional who performs diagnostic imaging using ionizing radiation such as X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. After two years in radiology, Gilley worked as a radiation therapist for the next eight years. She then took on the role of a medical facility safety inspector for the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control. “I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to help hospitals improve radiation protection for patients,” she said.

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Gilley’s first career was as a radiology technologist – a medical professional who performs diagnostic imaging using ionizing radiation such as X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. After two years in radiology, Gilley worked as a radiation therapist for the next eight years. She then took on the role of a medical facility safety inspector for the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control. “I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to help hospitals improve radiation protection for patients,” she said.

Gilley’s positive attitude and passion for radiation protection were recognized by her employees. Cynthia Becker, who worked with Gilley at the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control, compared her energy to that of a racehorse out of the gate. “Your determination and forward-looking attitude challenged me and our staff to contribute 110 percent to improving radiation protection,” she said.

In 1987, Gilley enrolled in a master’s degree in public administration designed to provide her with the knowledge she needed to become a manager on the uses of radiation in medicine.

To help finance her degree and make a living, Gilley continued to work full time evenings and weekends while studying at Florida State University. While her relentless energy was crucial to her success at this time of her life, she cited her mother as her greatest motivation. “My mother had no opportunity to study beyond high school, so she always encouraged her children to do their best academically. She insisted that education comes first because she wanted us to have more opportunities than she did, ”explained Gilley.

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