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Tribute to Faye McNall

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Faye has served as ASET’s Director of Education from 2005-2019. In tribute to Faye’s many contributions to neurodiagnostic education and the society, her coworkers, Maureen Carroll and Anna Bonner, interviewed Faye about her career in neurodiagnostic technology and collected stories and notes from many colleagues and friends she made along the way.

I have had the great privilege of working with Faye McNall for many years and in several different capacities.  Initially, we worked together as ASET representatives on the CoA-NDT, then later as members of the Director’s Council and the Formal Education Task Force and most recently as ASET staff in the Department of Education. I have always been impressed by her dedication, determination and integrity and the closer we work together the more I realize how perfectly she performs in her role as ASET’s Director of Education.  She is an intelligent, thoughtful and humble servant leader who has demonstrated her love of this field by embracing education and sharing her knowledge.   She has been a wonderful mentor and friend and I have learned countless life and work-related lessons.  Faye is a deeply genuine person filled with grace and humility.   She is the kind of person who loves her job and is fully gratified by helping others and generously sharing simple acts of kindness.

Maureen Carroll, BS, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGT, CNIM

Who or what first introduced you to NDT and when did you decide that NDT was going to be your ‘career’? I married young, was a high school graduate, and so postponed attending college. Later as single mother, I took a job close by my home as a Nursing Assistant at a nearby nursing home. I later took an on-the-job trained opportunity as a Dental Assistant and learned a lot during my four years there. The physical work was grueling at times, and there were several occupational hazards. It was a large practice, consisting of four dentists so there were many hours of standing and walking. Back then, I was also concerned about exposure to x-rays since we had very little protective gear compared to today. We also were responsible for mixing mercury with silver in small capsules without the use or protection of gloves. High speed water drills were used in many procedures, which aerated germs right out of patients’ mouths. In the old days, we didn’t have disposable masks. Cotton masks were shared among staff, hand washed, redistributed and reused the next day.

A few years ago, I took my 14-year-old Grandson, Jake, to Boston.  We visited with Faye, and she told him all about how to cook live lobster. She went to great length to explain how to put the lobster into boiling water. He listened very carefully but with a skeptical eye.  After we left, Jake asked me if it was true about the lobster and boiling water.  I said, “Yes.” and he looked at me and said he didn’t think “she was big enough to do that.” I have known Faye for many years, and I know she is “big enough” to do anything she wants.

Patti Baumgartner, R. EEG/EP T., CNIM, FASET

I wanted to do something different and looked into allied health opportunities, specifically 1-year programs that were nearby my home. Amongst all the specialties I read about, I was most interested in EEG. I was accepted into the 1-year EEG program at Holliston Junior College in Holliston, MA. It was a good program but wasn’t accredited and closed a couple of years after I graduated. The clinical site was at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center (UMass) and the Program Director was Wendy Smith, who held an R. EEG T. She went back into clinical work after program closed and I lost touch with her after that.

I worked with Faye for several years and she is a true savant of what the neurodiagnostic field represents. She is honest, sincere, hard working and inspirational. It was an honor to work with her to plan and organize the ASET Annual Conference. Every year she out-did herself and every year we wondered how she pulled it off, but she did, each year better than the last. I’m so thankful to have have worked with such an influential women who continues to inspire, educate, and transform the neurodiagnostic community. 

Sarah Dolezilek

I loved the EEG program. I maintained a 4.0 average in all courses, loved the clinical work, loved the Grass EEG machines, loved talking to patients. I was hired at City Hospital in Worcester, MA, before I graduated.  After a year, I went on to Memorial Hospital in Worcester and eventually, wound up back at UMass as lead technologist. One of the best electroencephalographers in the city, was Dr. Bert Guterman would read EEG records with me for hours and taught me how to read neonatal EEG patterns and later asked me to start an evoked potentials lab. 

Early Nicolet EP system

I had another great mentor at UMass too, Dr. Bruce Zarot, who also spent lots of time with me reviewing records. During the time I was preparing to take the oral Boards, my hairdresser noticed a patch of hair loss. I then went to a dermatologist, who attributed the hair loss was due to stress. When I told Dr. Guterman about my condition, he instructed me to take one afternoon off every week to go anywhere I would like to study. I was determined to pass the exam on round one and achieved my goal. Dr. Guterman’s mentorship led to my success, which sparked an interest in me to mentor and educate other techs.  

When EEG found Faye McNall, we were suddenly blessed with a friend, leader, and servant colleague.  It is not possible for me to know how many people Faye has touched or how she has made a difference in their lives and careers.  She has brought tremendous trust, tolerance, and thoughtfulness to ASET as well as to ASET’s individual members.  ASET, ABRET, and the ACNS are better organizations for having the opportunity to work with her.  Faye has shown me how to unequivocally love my career with the understanding that our roles include ensuring the future of our field and everyone’s professional success.  At this time, I wish Faye love, joy, and my most sincere gratitude for her outstanding work.

Elizabeth Mullikin, MPA, MNM, MA, R. EEG/EP T., CNIM, RDMS, FASET, FACHE

Before working at ASET, what was your favorite job/role in NDT?

I’ve been with ASET for 14 years. Prior to joining ASET I worked at Boston Children’s for 14 years as well. Children’s was my favorite place to work. I loved working with kids. I could get silly and make them laugh.  I called the skin prep, (Omni-prep) “Camel Snot” because it was like sand suspended in slime.  I was hired as second in command, as an Educational Coordinator. I worked with Lewis Kull who assigned me to teach a course based on the book, Fundamentals of EEG Technology, from day one. My first day on the job was the 1stof September and the first day of class was the 6th. I still have the notebook of lessons I used to teach each semester!  As soon as I started teaching, I realized how much I loved seeing students succeed. I would teach the class and the clinical site instruction for half the day, then I assigned senior techs to mentor the students. In addition, I was still responsible for running studies as a Lead Tech, keeping my skills fresh during the second half of my work day.

Scan of Faye’s EEG lesson

I later decided I wanted to develop my teaching skills, so I used the tuition reimbursement that Children’s offered to pursue a Masters degree in Education, which helped me greatly with teaching a class, but at the time, I didn’t realize the pathways it would open for me later. Because I worked full time and was a single mother, I didn’t take a full course load, only 2-3 classes per year, and achieving my Masters took 5 years total.

I roomed with Faye many times when we were both ASET staff. Faye does not need an alarm clock! Faye is up and ready to go no matter what time we needed to get going. And at times it was very early to set up registration and be prepared for the arrival of the attendees. Faye has a passion for education. Throughout her tenure as ASET Director of Education she always searched for new ways of education as well as what the techs needed most. Neurodiagnostics is continually evolving and Faye adjusted courses, course tracks, and Annual Conferences to fit the current environment. And always with a smile on her face although at times her New England roots would show with a determination to resolve the problem such as a last-minute speaker cancellation or the late arrival of the caterer bringing lunch. Faye also strived to recruit more technologists to the field and improve the access to schools with several Education Summits and symposiums on Neurodiagnostic education. The field of Neurodiagnostics has greatly benefited from Faye’s years as ASET Director of Education. And I have greatly benefited from her friendship.

Lucy Sullivan, R. EEG T., CLTM

What is your favorite aspect of working in the capacity as Director of Education for ASET?

The people! Talking to people every day from all over the country and all over the world. I receive the most interesting series of questions every day; how to get into field, what is the scope of practice, how to hire qualified techs, where to find a clinical site, how to educate/train, what are the ABRET pathways, etc. I love to advise on learning paths. It is so rewarding to meet a new tech, such as at one of ASET’s EEG boot camps, then realize that it is a lasting connection when that tech comes back to me for advice when they are ready to take the Boards, then come back to tell me when passed exam, then later come back as a conference speaker, or committee member, etc. It is so rewarding to see techs grow and develop their career path and to be a part of that journey.  

It is with gratitude that ABRET recognizes Faye McNall on her retirement after more than 40 years of service in the field of Neurodiagnostics. Thank you, Faye, for your dedication to the field of Neurodiagnostic Technology. Your communication and collaboration skills have been invaluable to ABRET. We recognize and thank you for being a guide and advocate for technologist education, competency and credentialing. Your regard for the profession and impressive resume as an expert, educator, and mentor should be an inspiration to all technologists. Congratulations on a long and successful career. You have made a difference in our field.

Janice Walbert, MS, CAE, FACNS, FASET, ABRET Executive Director

Can you share some of your memories revolving around the social events at ASET national meetings (such as fun themes etc.)?

Definitely The Wizard of Oz skit we put together with the “Three Mischief-teers” from the Charles Henry Society: Bobby Taskey, Willie Riordon, and Gary March. They were on the ASET Board at overlapping times, and in 1997, when I first came onto the Board, the annual conference was being held in Kansas City and we decided on The Wizard of Oz. Bobby, Willie and Gary came up with script and changed words to the song, “If I Only Had a Brain”. It was perfect. Bobby was cowardly lion, Gary March, the strawman, Larry Head, the tinman, Margaret Walcoff who was the incoming President was the wizard, Janet Billetti was Dorothy, Dave Weaver was Toto, and I was the wicked witch. Also, we wrapped Marc Williams in black and gray ballerina tulle and glued miniature model houses, cars and animals to look like a tornado. It was a riot.

I have over 40 years of having the pleasure to work with Faye. I have worked with her on courses and lectures as well as had her support and help with students on working and preparing for poster presentations. She has also been a fun part of the social events, helping with the skits and costumes as part of the annual conferences. With deep respect and gratitude, I am happy to consider Faye as my friend and an asset to our organization.

Marc Williams, BE, FASET, R.EEG/EP T., CNIM, CLTM

Left: 2005 ASET Annual Conference. Faye as gypsy fortune-teller with Charles Yingling, Ph.D.” Right: Faye with Dr. Ernst Niedermeyer

I love coming up with the themes of the conferences. We used to have Exhibit Hall theme parties, where people dressed up. One of my favorites was in 2011 in Atlanta, the theme was aliens. The idea had something to do with the movie, First Contact. The costumes were so much fun.

What I love about ASET is the people who are involved.  Faye is one of the people of ASET who I always look for when I come to the annual meetings. She is smart as a whip and a true professional.  Faye could have had a great future on-stage. Her performance in the Wizard of Oz was magnificent.  Faye is the kind of person I want as a friend.

Dave Weaver

Are there any memories you would like to share about Lewis Kull and the Memorial Online Scholarship in his name?

Lew Kull was so inspirational ; he was “The tech’s tech”. He embraced and wanted to learn everything he could about EEG. He had high expectations for himself, but would also challenge you to do presentations, serve on committees, train in a new modality. He would set you up for opportunities and brought the best out in everyone. I worked with Lew for 9 years, and then in 2000, he left Children’s and moved to New York.

Faye with Lewis Kull

We shared an office so became close friends. We end up being the “Mom and Pop” for all the students. I ran the day to day operations, but if student or tech came to Lew ask for time off or to leave early, he would tell them, “It’s okay with me, if it’s okay with Faye”, and vice versa, I would do the same. So, techs learned very quickly to say, “Well, Lew said it’s okay” when they would ask me for things. We kept in touch and stayed close friends, worked on ASET-related projects, he was elected to the ASET Board while I was Director of Education, and we worked on the same ASET committees.  Lew always gave the best talks at the ASET meetings. After he passed away, Maggie and I advocated for the scholarship that is now in his name, to honor him and his commitment to education.  My only regret is for people who never heard him lecture.  He was a great teacher.

Sometimes you meet someone, and you know immediately that this person is going to be a very special person and influence in your life. Such was the case when I met Faye. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but it had to be at an ASET meeting in the early 2000’s, probably 17 or 18 years ago. I can’t even remember the circumstances… I just know that what a joy that was to know Faye. I can go on and on about her professionalism, enthusiasm and work ethic… but what I really want people to know about Faye is the friendship and encouragement that she has given me throughout the years. No matter the circumstance, Faye was always there to provide a friendly ear to listen to my questions and thoughts, no matter how trivial as I’m sure some of them were. Her heart and passion for all things education wore off on me and I’m sure, quite a few others. She made me so much better a teacher and educator just by her trust and faith in me, not just from a colleague point of view but from the true friend point of view. And she always did it with a smile and an upbeat attitude. She always had a kind word for everybody. Conversely, I can’t remember anyone saying an unkind word about Faye in all my years knowing her. She is truly a jewel in the electrodiagnostic community. Without her, I and ASET would not be where we are today. THANKS FAYE!

Jerry Morris, MS, R.NCS.T., CNCT, FASET

What will you miss the most about working with ASET?

My colleagues and my contact with people out there everyday in the field. I may still serve on ASET committees or taskforces and will help with the regional New England Society. I’m going to miss the people. I already miss them in a way, I’m feeling a disconnect. I have recently had to stop traveling, due to my husband’s illness.  Over the last two years, I can plan the annual meetings, but can’t meet speakers, see people’s reactions to the meetings, or feel the energy and excitement of the annual meeting. I was so energized by being there in person, seeing all the year’s work coming together. It felt like a 3-day show and the show must go on, no matter what happens. It was exciting, and I was galvanized by the energy and dynamic of making this happen, a 3-day natural high. I miss that.

Faye, how exciting that you will be starting a new chapter in your life.  As I was told when I retired, “you will be busier than when you worked full time”, it is true. May this new chapter be filled with adventure, new challenges and great happiness. You have made such an impact on ASET as an educator, leader and ambassador.  You have made an indelible mark on our profession and I am glad that I have been able to work with you. Your creativity and love for our profession has changed our members in ways that you can’t put a price on. You will be missed at the helm of the Education Department but know you will not be forgotten and that I will always be proud to call you my friend. Best wishes to you!

Sharyn Katz, R. EEG T., FASET

What are you most looking forward to in your retirement?

The summer, warm days, the river right outside my back door, getting out on the boat. I will volunteer somewhere too. The lighthouse nearby has an educational program. It is located on an island and there are tours for school kids. Maybe I can volunteer as a guide for the local botanical garden. I don’t know a thing about plants, but it would be nice to be outside, to enjoy the beauty of the gardens with people.

Faye’s boat

It was my pleasure to work with Faye for 10 of my 11 years with ASET. Faye is a devoted educator and friend to neurodiagnostics professionals across the country. She has been involved in the education of so many in our field. She brings to our profession her many years of clinical experience and her skills as a professional educator. She also brings her cheerful attitude and wonderful sense of humor. She will be greatly missed and hard to replace. She has a beautiful house on the water in Maine and I wish her many years of joy and lobster rolls on that beautiful property. I will forever call her one of my dearest friends.

Maggie Marsh-Nation, Ph.D., R. EEG/EP T., CNIM

My daughter and I take a pilgrimage to Eastport, Maine, annually to learn more about our family tree.  Eastport is on the coast, it’s about a 5-hour drive north, almost at the Canadian Border. I remember my grandmother telling us stories about growing up there. It has a rich sea going, sea faring history and served a sardine packing industry. I have my grandmother’s handwritten recipes and so I also want to publish an “Eastport Legacy” cookbook based on those recipes.

Faye, Lucy Sullivan, and Dr. Niedermeyer. Photo taken by Brian Markley

This article was written by Maureen Carroll, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGT, CNIM, and Anna M. Bonner, R. EEG T., RPGST.

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