All it took was one semester in Dr. Frank Knight's biology experience class last fall to help Freddy Prince decide on a career path.
Prince, a senior biology major from Jonesboro, Ark., who is graduating from University of the Ozarks on May 17, has been accepted into the nuclear medicine imagining sciences program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) starting in the fall. He will take classes at UAMS via distance education and do his clinical work at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro.
Prince said that the biology experience class, in which he spent six hours a week shadowing professionals at the Johnson Regional Medical Center in Clarksville, was extremely beneficial in helping him finally decide on a career.
"I was really struggling with what I wanted to do and that experience definitely helped me narrow it down," said Prince. "The first part of the semester we rotated between several areas at the hospital, and the second half we were able to focus on those areas that interested us the most. I had always had an interest in radiology, so I spent a lot of time in that area and I discovered that I really enjoyed it. It seemed like a great fit for me."
Nuclear medicine involves the use of radioactive tracers in studying a wide variety of normal and abnormal body functions and in treating certain diseases. According to the UAMS website, a nuclear medicine technologist, under the direction of a qualified physician, prepares and administers radiopharmaceuticals, operates radiation detection equipment that measures the quantity or distribution of the radiopharmaceutical in the patient, and performs any calculations or computer analyses needed to complete the patient’s exam. Certified nuclear medicine technologists work primarily in the hospital setting or outpatient clinics.
"I’ve always liked science and knew I wanted to be in a career that involved science," Prince said. "I’ve found that I truly enjoy the hospital environment and helping people."
The first in his family to earn a college degree, Prince said he learned the importance of education at a young age.
"I used to work with my dad some in his heating and air business and it was hard, dirty work," Prince said. "My dad used to tell me that I needed to get my education so that I could someday work inside in air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. I know my parents are going to be excited for me when I walk across that stage and get my diploma."
Prince was also a standout baseball player at Ozarks, earning all-conference honors as a four-year starter. He credited the small class sizes and professors for helping him juggle academics with athletics.
"I don’t how I would have been able to do it at a larger school," Prince said. "My professors were always willing to help me make up the classes I missed and provide me with the extra help I needed. The small classes definitely made a difference for me."
As a smooth-swinging, strong-armed outfielder, Prince led the American Southwest Conference in batting last year with a .406 average and leaves Ozarks among the top 10 career leaders in several categories, including hits (176) and batting average (.353).
"It’s been a great four years," Prince said. "It’s an honor to be in the record books at Ozarks because I think of all the great players that have come through here, including several that I had the privilege of playing with. It’s going to be weird not playing baseball anymore because I’ve been playing the sport since I was six or seven. But I’m ready for the next chapter in my life."