June 3, 2010 in Washington Voices

Health scare gives Kaitlyn Mullett look at future

Experiencing procedure pointed Oaks senior to ultrasound career
Juli Bergstrom Wasson juliwasson@gmail.com

The Oaks Classical Christian Academy senior Kaitlyn Mullett’s goal is to pursue an education in diagnostic ultrasound has been largely inspired by her mother Sherri’s battle with breast cancer.
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Class of 2010

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Kaitlyn Mullett always dreamed of steering her future toward a medical career. After all, her grandmother was a registered nurse. Her mother is an aesthetician.

The Oaks Classical Christian Academy senior and daughter of Sherri and Vern Mullett of Spokane Valley thought she might one day enjoy working in dermatology, or at least something with the skin.

But it was her own experience with ultrasound technology and peering beneath the skin that helped pinpoint Kaitlyn’s career goals.

“The (ultrasound technician) was talking to me the whole time, showing me how it works,” Kaitlyn said of her procedure. “I was just sitting there thinking this is really just amazing.”

All the while she also was contemplating the thought of having breast cancer. Last summer, Kaitlyn noticed a lump in her breast – about two years after her mother’s breast cancer discovery.

It was scary anticipating the possible outcome, she said. “I was sitting there waiting, thinking how my life could be changed in 15 minutes. Instead of going to volleyball practice, I would be going for radiation.”

Thankfully, doctors determined Kaitlyn’s lump was tissue buildup. But the hyper-awareness that resulted from her ultrasound, along with the support she offered while at her mother’s side during her therapy and recovery, led Kaitlyn to realize what she wanted to do following high school.

“My mom is so excited about my career choice,” said Kaitlyn, an only child. “She knows it will be a good fit for me, although she’s not so thrilled about me going away for the college experience.”

Only about 10 universities offer bachelor’s degrees in diagnostic sonography. Kaitlyn has applied to three, including Seattle University, the only one in the state. She has been accepted there and is waiting to hear from the schools in Memphis and Boise.

Kaitlyn has job-shadowed at a radiation therapy clinic and at a vascular ultrasound office to help learn as much as she could to confirm her choice.

“I want to enter the medical field because I have a desire to serve others,” said the teen. She added she’d like to travel across the globe to help teach others how to use the machinery and then specialize in pediatric diagnostic sonography.

“I think of each patient as a giant puzzle,” said Kaitlyn. And that’s a good thing since she enjoys puzzles.

Her favorite subjects in school are calculus and physics, and she has maintained a 3.5 grade point average. She also found time this year to be a crew member for school theater productions, to gain photography skills, and to help with youth classes at church and work part-time.

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