Karren Fader, Nuclear Medicine Technology

A day in the life

Karren Fader, Nuclear Medicine Technology


After eight years of teaching I’m still easily excited by the thought of new first-year students and moved by bittersweet feelings when our fourth-year students graduate.

Part of the whole

Karren Fader stumbled into the field of nuclear medicine technology entirely by accident, after briefly toying with the notion of becoming a commercial pilot and then a Dalhousie arts major. In fact, if not for an act of serendipity she probably wouldn’t be teaching at the School of Health Sciences today.

“I was in my first year at Dal taking English and Sociology,” she says. “My girlfriend and I went to the career centre and started flipping through the binders that had careers listed in alphabetical order. We were in the ‘N’ section and she thought Nursing appealed to her. It didn’t do it for me but Nuclear Medicine Technology sounded edgy and scientific while still being an integral part of the health-care system. Once I was accepted into one of the six spots available in the program at the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology [before it became a degree program at Dal], I knew I’d made the right choice.”

The native of Hatchet Lake, N.S., just outside Halifax, received her diploma in Nuclear Medicine Technology in 1984 and went on to work at hospitals in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. She then went back to school part time, earning her BHSc at Dal in 2005, two years after starting her teaching career at the School of Health Sciences. She’s now working towards her master’s degree in Health Informatics.

“It’s my current interest,” she says. “I try to get my Nuclear Medicine students to think about how what we do is only one piece of all the health data we collect for patients. It has many applications and potential for research.”

Karren says Dal’s School of Health Sciences stands out from others in the country because it offers the only four-year integrated program of its kind in Canada. Since the curriculum is spread over four years, her students take general health science courses along with their nuclear medicine-specific ones, while also putting their knowledge to practice in the clinical environment.

“The fourth-year professional practice course provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge of NMT by using different skill sets,” she says. “We have a mentorship program whereby they’re assigned first-year students, and they also participate in a leadership project with a team leader within the department. The students say it helps them learn more about themselves and their abilities. It’s a great confidence booster and a perfect transition from student to working technologist.”

Karren says she prepares her students for the working world by encouraging them to question and challenge the things they learn in the program.

“I tell the first-year students that a ‘curiosity factor’ is required to be successful,” she says. “I expect a lot from my students, but I want them to eclipse me. I want them to not only be competent professionals but exercise all of the additional skills and abilities this program offers. I want them to shape the nuclear medicine technology practice of the future.”