It can be a scary first-time experience, lying on a gurney in the lab at a clinic and waiting for an ultrasound. It’s especially true when you are a freshman in high school and not sure what the procedure is like or what the outcome will be.
For Hayden native and recent Lewis-Clark State College graduate Kennan Orlandi, the experience turned into one of those aha moments.
“It was an imaging clinic, and every person I passed was smiling and I could tell that they genuinely enjoyed their job,” Kennan says. “The technologist that performed my procedure was so sweet and she really cared about me.”
The experience resonated with Kennan and she knew what she wanted to do with a career. She followed through and earned an associate degree in Radiographic Science with a minor in Spanish in 2018 from the LC State main campus in Lewiston, and then continued her education while working 40 hours a week to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in May 2019.
“That is now what I will always strive to be as long as I work in the medical field; caring and compassionate,” says Kennan, who works for Northwest Specialty Hospital in Coeur d’Alene as a radiological technologist, more commonly known as an x-ray or lab technician. “It might be my 10th time taking a chest x-ray that day, but to one patient, it is their first time. With my job, I have to make sure that the patient is comfortable and understands what is going to happen for the short time I am with them.”
Kennan worked at Northwest Specialty Hospital during her clinical rotations before graduating, which she says she loved. When her manager at NSH called to offer her a job after she graduated, she jumped at the opportunity to return home.
“Most people after high school were so excited to move away from the area, but I always knew that I would come back after college,” says the 2015 Coeur d’Alene High graduate. “I could not ask for a better work environment or for better people to spend my days with. When you like working with the people around you, it makes coming to work fun and exciting. I work with some pretty funny and caring people.”
Kennan says the fun part of her job is that she works at both the hospital and the urgent care area run by NSH. At the hospital, she takes inpatient and outpatient x-rays and CT scans, and does procedures like myelograms and arthrograms, diagnostic imaging tests that look at spinal cords and joints, respectively. She also uses an x-ray machine in the operating room. At the urgent care site, she takes x-rays and checks in patients, which requires her to take the patient’s vital signs and start an IV when applicable.
With LC State offering degrees in Radiographic Science, Kennan said by the time she was a junior in high school, she knew exactly where she wanted to go. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her sister, Caelyn Orlandi, was already at LC State and in the midst of an outstanding women’s basketball career.
“My sister would always have nothing but good things to say about LC,” Kennan says. “Since she is two years older than me, I had a pretty good idea about the college and what it had to offer even before I decided to apply. I probably would have followed my sister anywhere; I look up to her so much. Going to LC, I loved that I was able to follow her basketball career, and to me, nothing was better than being able to live together my three years at college.”
Kennan says LC State’s Radiographic Science program, with its hands-on approach, was a perfect fit for her.
“The program was tough, but being able to have friends for study buddies and to clarify hard concepts was great,” she says. “Lorinda (Hughes) was a great instructor. Since Lorinda was an x-ray tech herself, she was great at teaching us hard concepts and then showing us how to apply them to our job. We had many x-ray machines that allowed us a great hands-on approach to learning. I learn best with a hands-on approach, so I am really thankful that this program allowed us this way to learn.”
LC State prides itself on its smaller class sizes, which gives students more of a feel of a private college education at a public college price. Kennan found that to be true.
I loved that my class sizes were small,” she says. “Even my freshman year taking anatomy and physiology, the seats were never full like many other colleges would be. During lab, we would be able to talk with the instructor one on one and be able to get up close and personal with the cadavers. There were also many different learning labs that we could attend if we needed more help on a certain subject or more clarification.”
Kennan says she also loved her Spanish classes and the fact she took college Spanish classes in high school and those credits easily transferred, which helped her achieve her degree faster.
“My favorite teacher throughout my years at LC would have to be Julie Bezzerides,” Keenan says of LC State’s assistant professor of Spanish. “She made the classroom fun and would always have funny stories to tell about her daughter.”
Kennan says she took full advantage of the LC State experience and has a number of fond memories, including the time she played capture the flag her freshman year on the library lawn.
“My sister and I lived close to campus so we decided to walk over and play,” she says. “It had rained the night before so the ground was a little slippery and we were also playing at night. My sister and I were on the same team and I had a brilliant idea of sprinting to the other side to save our teammates from jail. My plan didn’t go very well. I ended up doing a great face plant and I also got captured by the other team.
“I loved my time at LC. It is such a quaint little town and it reminded me of home when I was attending school. I took hard classes, and I knew that if I needed help, my professors would have given me their undivided attention.”
During her clinical rotations before graduation, she also worked at St. Mary’s Hospital and clinics in Cottonwood, and at Kootenai Hospital in Coeur d’Alene. She says she enjoyed the different experiences to help prepare her for her career.
“LC allows students to obtain their degree goals while doing it at an affordable cost,” she says. “Even though it might be a smaller college, the people who live in the town and the people that you will meet are going to change your life. Everyone is so friendly and the professors really want you to succeed, and they care for you. I highly doubt you can get this atmosphere at any other college.
“It was a perfect fit for me! I knew I didn’t want to go to a huge college. I wanted to experience a new place, away from home, and I knew U of I wouldn’t have been a good fit for me. I chose LCSC because of the location and how it reminded me of home.”
Having her sister Caelyn at LC State didn’t hurt either. Caelyn holds a number of women’s basketball program records and is now an assistant coach for the Warriors.
“I have and I will always look up to my sister,” Kennan says. “She is an inspiration to me and to many people. She was a great tri-athlete in high school, and became an amazing basketball player in college. We were not very close growing up because we were the complete opposite. She was the sporty daughter and I was the one wearing tutus and dancing. I really started looking up to her in high school because she was an amazing person. She was friends with everyone and always had a smile on her face. When I think of my sister, I can’t help but smile. She is so successful and I love being able to look up to her and have her as a huge role model in my life.”
Kennan says Caelyn is her best friend and that they remain in touch constantly.
“I get called, ‘Caelyn’s sister’ and to me, it’s a compliment. I would not want to get called a little sister to anyone but her. Caelyn’s list of athletic awards is outstanding and so is her academic ones. She was always a team player and would always talk about how great her teammates were during the game. It takes a great person to be humble about the 25 points and 10 assists playing against Westmont she had that night, but not mention it once during the end game interview. I could be biased and the proudest sister ever, but she is the greatest all time athlete to walk through the women’s basketball program, in my opinion.”
As for her career, Kennan is happy with her decision. She says she remembers how she felt being treated during her ultrasound experience, which is why she enjoys working with patients. She says she loves meeting people and having the opportunity to follow them on the journey to find relief from pain and sickness.
“Even though I only get to be with patients for a short period of time, they can really make a lasting impact on my life,” she says. “I love what I do.”