Military service shaped TMC Imaging Director

danfelix3 (002)Every day is Veteran’s Day for Air Force veteran Dan Felix. There will be no parades or fanfare for him today. Instead, he will go to work to serve, shaped by his service in the Air Force.

Felix, the director of imaging at TMC, joined right after graduating from his high school in his rural, mining community of Hayden. There were 43 students in his graduating class.

A first generation U.S. citizen, whose parents hailed from Mexico, Felix was drawn to military service. “I wanted to give back to the country that allowed my parents to raise a family in America with all the benefits we all enjoy,” Felix explained. He’d seen firsthand great poverty in Mexico. “We had health care, clothing, food, money. From a young age, I learned to appreciate the opportunities and luxuries   our great country had to offer.”

The Air Force provided structure, taught him to develop his natural qualities of perseverance and patience, and challenged him to keep growing. He appreciated the mines – his father and brothers retired from that work – but he didn’t want it for himself. He signed up for college classes, obtaining associate’s degrees in X-ray technology and later, nuclear medicine. A bachelor’s in medical and imaging technology followed. He is now one class away from a master’s degree in leadership.

The transition was a natural one. “X-ray has some parallels to the technical work I was doing in the Air Force – there’s electronics and physics and you’re working with your hands – and that’s combined with an intellectual component.”

It was nuclear medicine that stole his heart. He initially told his instructor there was no way he was going to like it. But Day One he was besotted. “Just the sound of it is intriguing, but beyond that, you’re in the physics world, talking about radiation at its origin. I was living in this cerebral realm I had aspired to my whole life.”

He ended up joining Tucson Medical Center in 1999 to train in nuclear medicine. He never left.

“As I look back and analyze the mission of the military and TMC, they dovetail,” he said, noting both exist to serve others and play a role in providing for the greater good of everybody else.

He never takes the day off for Veteran’s Day. “I am so appreciative of being able to come into work to help others – the patients we serve, the workers who make up this hospital – and to provide for my family. I take a lot of pride in those three things, so if you think about that, why wouldn’t I want to work?”

That doesn’t mean he won’t spend some time reflecting on those who serve. “Joining the military at a young age means leaving your comfort, your home, your family and everything you know that is normal, and embarking into a huge world of unknowns,” he said.

“When I think about veterans, I think about those who decided to take a risk and take a leap of faith for the sake of their country. It’s not just a job. It’s a sacrifice for others – and I don’t think that’s easily understood unless you’re the one doing the sacrificing.”

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