Emily Gutierrez works as an X-Ray Technician at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center

When she was in high school, Emily Gutierrez dreamed of being a photographer.

Family portraits, weddings, engagement photos--Gutierrez was drawn to this kind of work because she loves working with people.

When she went to sign up for classes at Germanna Community College, Gutierrez found herself drawn to nursing, but there was a problem: "Needles were not my thing," she said.

Her mother, a nurse, suggested she combine her love of photography with her interest in the medical field.

So she studied to be an X-ray technician, found a career she loves and along the way got over her fear of needles.

In just over a year working as an X-ray technician at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, Gutierrez has seen the hospital at every hour of the day. She started out working night shifts, and recently transitioned to days.

While nights bring a lot of work in the ER, and a sometimes frantic pace, days can take Gutierrez all over the hospital, from imaging to support scheduled surgeries, to fluoroscopy studies and other diagnostic procedures.

But no matter how busy things get, Gutierrez enjoys the feeling of support she gets from everyone she works with at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

"I have never worked at a place where people are so willing to help," she says. "People here respect that while we need to move things along in a timely manner, we also need to make sure we take care of the patient and take the time to think carefully about every case."

That means taking the time to assess every patient before the X-ray to determine the best way to move the individual, the best angle to take the image and the best way to communicate with them for their comfort and well-being.

"We talk to every single patient we X-ray, and tell them what we're going to do, how it might feel," she says. "Even if they are intubated, even if we have been told they can't hear us, you never know. I'm going to tell them what's going on."

It all comes down to helping people--the same instinct that made Gutierrez want to pursue portrait photography when she was younger. Now she gets to do what she loves in a way that makes a lasting impact on the lives of those she works with.

"We get to care for others," she says. "I have always been that person who says, 'You're sick, let me help take care of you.' I'm thankful to be able to do it in real life for my job. You come home feeling good about what you've done."

Gutierrez has called the Fredericksburg region home since 2009. She and her husband are big proponents of the region's outdoors offerings. They take their chocolate lab and golden retriever to the trails and springs at Alum Spring Park in Fredericksburg almost every week. They also enjoy hiking at Government Island in Stafford County and venture out to hike Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park.

Being able to see former patients out and about in the community, and coming to work every day in a place where she feels like part of a motivated team keep her excited to go to work every day.

"Spotsy is family," she says, "I love what I do."

Emily Gutierrez using an X-Ray machine
Emily dreamed of becoming a photographer, but when she also fell in love with the nursing profession, she decided to combine her two passion by becoming an X-Ray Technician.