When Matthew Hayes enrolled at AdventHealth University (AHU) in Orlando, Florida, United States, he had no idea that one day he would become world-renowned in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) industry.
His only criteria at that time: warm weather and a stable career.
“My mother was a nurse. My brother is a nurse. I knew I didn’t want to go into nursing and all the tough stuff that nurses must deal with. X-ray seemed like a perfect mix of helping people and doing something involving medicine and science,” Hayes, the son of a Seventh- day Adventist minister, said.
With Hayes’ goals in mind, AHU was the perfect place for him to begin his career journey.
Hayes worked as an X-ray tech assistant at AdventHealth Orlando throughout his years at AHU, where he lived in the student residence hall, and served as student body president during the 2002-2003 school year. He even met his future wife, a nurse, at AHU.
“I was always really comfortable there,” Hayes said. “The professors and faculty taught me not just about the medical field but also how to behave. AHU is also where I discovered my love for physics.”
Hayes earned his associate’s degree in radiography at AHU in 2003. After graduation, when a friend who worked in MRI needed to take a few days off work, Hayes helped fill in. “I fell in love with MRI right out of the gate,” he said.
In the years that followed, Hayes returned to AHU to earn his bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences in 2013, while gaining clinical experience in the field. He began working for Horizon Open MRI and then became a highly specialized neuroskeletal imaging technician. “I started thinking about what I wanted to do long term,” Hayes said.
He quickly rose from staff technologist to chief technologist to head of advanced modalities at RAYUS Radiology, formerly Sand Lake Imaging, in Orlando.
Friends, as well as AHU faculty, thought his dynamic style would make him a great radiology professor, and he spent seven years teaching online MRI courses for AHU. By then, MRI education had become a passion as well as a profession for him. During that time, Hayes realized the need for MRI technologists throughout the world to have access to high-quality education, and he began work on what is now ImagingU, which offers didactic MRI education.
In 2016, Siemens Healthcare invited Hayes to relocate from Orlando to Cary, North Carolina, to teach MRI physics and applications at its North American and European training centers. He, his wife, Tiffany, and their two daughters, quickly settled into life in North Carolina. This career move allowed Hayes to continue expanding his MRI knowledge while also satisfying his need to pass that knowledge on to others.
However, Hayes still saw an additional need within the medical space. He set out to create what could be the world’s first MRI quantitative thought simulator, known as ScanLabMR. Currently, ScanLabMR and ImagingU are utilized by more than 65 universities (including AHU) throughout the world, as well as leading health-care organizations, such as Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson Center, and major MRI technology manufacturers.
“I saw a desperate need for didactic and clinical MRI education,” Hayes said. “We’re just getting started in the realm of skill quantification in medicine.”
Looking back at the path his life has taken and the impact that this technology is having in medicine, he reflects: “I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”
The original version of this profile was posted on Southern Tidings.