HCTC Regional Radiography Program Coordinator Homer Terry Retires after 30 years of Dedicated Work
Former Hazard Community and Technical College Professor Homer Terry may not be a man of few words but for the past three decades he has been a man of singular focus.
“It has never been about me. It was always about the graduate and the student,” Terry says. “I wanted to make sure the student graduated and was able to get a job. I’ve helped students in the middle of the night, helped fix broken down cars, you name it, anything you can think of to help my students succeed.”
The recent retiree started his tenure at HCTC in the summer of 1991 after what many would consider 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 years old,” he explains. “I left home at 13 and went to the Hindman Settlement School where I boarded and worked my way through high school. I graduated in 1974.”
Terry attended Morehead State University from 1974 to 1979, where he graduated with an associate degree in Radiography and a bachelor’s degree in science. Terry worked his way through college by working in the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky during the summer and Christmas breaks. There were many shifts in the mines when he worked 8 miles underground to achieve his goal of a college degree.
“I knew at that time in the medical community there was such a demand for radiographers. When I graduated, I had five different jobs lined up, so, I could work anywhere in America, and I knew that,” he says.
The job Terry landed on after graduation was with Hazard Appalachian Regional Healthcare, where he worked for 20 years and became trained in nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, special procedures, and mammography. Terry also became 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 says, chuckling.
Terry attended Thomas Jefferson University Sonography School in Philadelphia, Gulf Coast Institute of Sonography in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and CT and advanced CT training at the University of Kentucky and at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington.
After becoming one of the very first technologists to perform an ultrasound and CT in Eastern Kentucky during his time at ARH, Terry began to train dozens of other technologists in the same practice. It was during this time that he realized his field was facing a major problem.
“The whole time I was there I was seeing what a shortage of technologists there were because we were worked to death at the time, and I knew that. I said, God, we need to develop something for school,” he says.
In the summer of 1991, the stars seemed to align for Terry when then HCTC President Ed Hughes called him up about teaching radiography at the school. Terry says he saw this as an opportunity to give back to a field in the region that he had gained so much from in the two decades he worked for ARH.
Within two years, Terry became program director for radiography at HCTC and had received national accreditation for the program.
“In 1994, at the urging 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 adds. Once the program achieved regional accreditation, Terry served as a mentor for numerous other program directors across America wishing to do the same with their programs.
Terry says those first few years at HCTC were a whirlwind but were absolutely worth every sleepless night.
“Oh God, it liked to kill me,” Terry says, laughing. “If I didn’t have everybody else helping me and holding my hand this would have never happened because at that time, I was a radiographer not an educator.” Terry utilized and relied upon the superb administrative skills of Delcie Combs and the Leadership of Donna Combs as Division Chair to make the program grow and flourish. Terry established Clinical sites at 13 different hospitals and clinics throughout Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia.
In his 30 years working with the radiography program, Terry wrote and implemented the CT certificate program at HCTC, wrote and implemented the certificate MRI program at Southeast Community and Technical College, pursued, implemented, and oversaw the initial stages of the sonography program at HCTC and pursued and assisted in the hiring of a qualified coordinator for that program He initiated and co-wrote the articulation agreement with Morehead State University that allowed HCTC radiography graduates to enroll directly into the MSU BS degree of Imaging Science.
Terry also served for six years on the KCTCS Board of Directors as well as six years on the President’s Leadership Committee at HCTC. For one summer, he studied abroad in Germany and Europe as a representative for HCTC and co-authored a book while he was there called German Studies that is in print throughout the world in more than 1,000 libraries. He obtained his master’s degree in science from the University of New Mexico and Eastern Kentucky University, and he served on dozens of hiring committees at HCTC—especially committees associated with hiring new faculty and staff from within the medical field.
He also has educated and directed 500 plus students to graduate through the HCTC program and gain employment after graduation.
“I’m so proud of that. We’ve made such a tremendous impact in Appalachia,” he says. “These students are nationally registered, so they can go all over the United States and work. I’ve got graduates in Puerto Rico, California, New York City, Florida—all over the place!”
“I worked so hard to make sure I had my finger on every job all the time. Everybody knew when they called me to get a reference for a student, they knew who to call,” Terry adds.
Even as his retirement approached, Terry didn’t slow down with the program’s success, gaining a 98.3 percent pass rate for all HCTC radiography graduates’ first attempt at the national boards from 2018-2020 and a 100% employment of all students.
“I’ve done a lot of work in the last 30 years,” he says, adding that he’s ready to start another new adventure in his second retirement, though he remains an HCTC professor emeritus.
Terry wants the next chapter to be filled with fun that includes time with his wife and three grandbabies. He is also a licensed pilot and loves that adventure as well as boating and lots of travel to keep him busy every day.
“Always upgrading my 57 chevy pickup, attending UK games at Rupp, hiking the 60 plus trails at Red River Gorge, attending Keeneland, The Red Mile, The Oaks and the Kentucky Derby each year, and snow skiing in North Carolina and water skiing at Lake Cumberland,” he says.