This summer, Connie Kubiak will have completed one of the most trying presidencies at ASET-The Neurodiagnostic Society.
But through it all, Kubiak has remained committed to serving the society’s members and pushing neurodiagnostics forward. Kubiak has been a neurodiagnostic technologist (NDT) for more than 30 years and said that COVID-19 is just the latest in a long line of challenges over which NDTs have prevailed in recent memory. That includes the AIDS epidemic and 9/11.
Kubiak started her career at age 19 adjacent to neurodiagnostics as an EKG tech. She soon moved into EEG and studied under Dr. Vivian Porter at St. Joseph’s School of EEG Technology, where she graduated in 1989.
Today, in addition to her ASET presidency, she holds a fellowship with ASET and works as a travel technologist through LRS Healthcare. She is credentialed in EEG, evoked potentials, intraoperative monitoring, and long-term monitoring.
We had a chance to check in with her recently to discuss her career, her ASET presidency, and the value of service through leadership.
The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
NI: How did you get into neurodiagnostics?
Kubiak: It was something I’d always been interested in. As a kid I had suffered a couple of head injuries and ended up having EEGs myself. All that I remember about it is having this horrible stuff in my hair for weeks on end after I was done being tested and being constantly scolded by the tech for moving.
When I had my kids, I knew that to be able to provide for them, I had to have a career. Being a tech involved math and science, so it interested me. At the time it was Monday through Friday. There were very few calls, no nights, weekends, or holidays. So, it was a great thing for a working mother to do.
I worked five years in the field before I went to school. I was over 30 at the time with children. I was also driving 90 miles one way for school. It was a commitment by the entire family for me to do this.
NI: What made you interested in pursuing leadership at ASET?
Kubiak: One of the things I try to do is give back as much as possible because I had people that helped me along.
Dr. Porter was very instrumental in developing three presidents for ASET that I know of: Gail Hayden, myself, and Susan Agostini. We were all students of hers who went on to become presidents. She felt that it was a career, that we were professionals, and she treated us as such.
I got involved with the Florida society of EEG techs. When I left Florida, I moved to Ohio to be a supervisor of a lab and got involved with the Ohio EEG society there. Then, when I moved back to Michigan — where I am from — I got involved with the Michigan EEG tech society.
There, I started helping out at meetings. I became a co-editor of the newsletter and then vice president. Then I became president, and 9-11 hit. At that point a lot of people stepped back. We had only a handful of paying members and we really struggled for probably 10 years.
Then we started doing what I called “mini meetings.” We would rotate them around Michigan and have them at local facilities. There might only be 10 or 15 people there. We did that for many years until we developed it back up.
From that, I got more involved with ASET. I did a couple of presentations, served on some committees, and ran for the board. I was chair of the historical society. Then I threw my hat in for the presidency.
NI: Tell us about your time as ASET president.
Kubiak: I actually was nominated about 30 minutes prior to the nominations closing, and I was the only person nominated. I was shocked.
I think a lot of people are sometimes overwhelmed or intimidated by it. It’s completely volunteer and it’s a five-year commitment. You serve two years as president-elect, two years as president, and a year past-president.
It’s been a little more tumultuous than I would have thought it was going to be. COVID changed a lot of things, and there were tough decisions that were made this year. It really changed the way that we do business. We did our first virtual meeting. We did our first-ever major collaboration with some of the physician’s groups because of COVID. I’d like to think that there were many firsts.
I was glad that I had the time to dedicate to it. I’m hoping that I’ll leave this year having made a positive impact.
NI: How do you most want to be remembered professionally?
Kubiak: That I always tried to do what was best for the patients and their family. I tried to treat every one of my patients as if they were a family member.
It was the same for ASET. I always tried to think about how I felt ethically or morally and how things related to what was best for the membership as well as patient safety. I had to answer to ASET as a whole, not just go by my opinion.
NI: What advice do you have for techs today?
Kubiak: Everybody in this field started out with somebody helping them. So, to me, once you’ve gotten registered and you have a strong four to five years in the field, now you should be mentoring someone else.
Volunteer at whatever level you can, whether it be local, state, regional, or the national level. You will learn something when you do that.
And try new things. If you fall, it’s still a learning moment. It can be overwhelming, so I tell people to start with little bites. You take one bite at a time, and go from there.
Special thanks to Connie Kubiak, R. EEG/EP T., CNIM, CLTM, FASET, President of ASET-The Neurodiagnostic Society, for sharing her story.