Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Holy Hiatus, Batman! 1 year, 2 months and 2 days. That's how long it's been since my last post. Wow. Sorry to leave you all hanging.

I'm still working at the hospital here in Flagstaff and couldn't feel farther from being a student. Although this started as a student blog, I feel as though I have fully bloomed into a full on Radiologic Technologist and it feels good to have my student days behind me......at least for now.

I'm still working the weekend shift, which keeps me busy. The hardest part about my job at this point, is time management. There is a lot to do, little time to do it in and few people to help you accomplish it. But this forces you to rely more on your self and find ways to make the most of your time and skills. This I like, even though it can get stressful at times. My coworkers on the weekends are great. We are a pretty tight knit group and I feel I can really rely on them, as I hope they feel they can rely on me.

I think the part of my job I enjoy the most is doing just regular old x-rays. For the most part, I love to interact with my patients and use my "people skills" to make them feel comfortable and encouraged. You have the opportunity to meet some interesting and "interesting" people, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, I hope to update this thing more frequently than I have been. I hope you still come back from time to time to check it out. Good luck to all of those x-ray tech students out there. Although it seems like forever, your schooling will be over fast and you will be a bona fide Radiologic Technologist before you know it. Hang in there!

Monday, May 11, 2009


30. 30 years. 30 years old. I turned 30 in April. Does anyone ever really think that you will turn 30? Not anyone in their 20's, certainly. Your 20's are full of fun, parties, invincibility.....things like that. Your 30s....not so much. I've realized I've set out on the path to "domesticness"... wife, house, dog, kids....so far in that order, and I am COMPLETELY OK with that. Really, I am. Honestly. But I'm pretty sure no one really thinks they will ever get there......until you turn 30.

At 30 you take a look at yourself and you say, "OK, I guess I'm not a kid any more, but I sure as HELL don't feel like an adult, so what do I do." You either revert to acting like a 20 year old or you take some responsibility and JUST GROW UP. I plan to do the latter. And unfortunately, too few people do the former. I guess that's your prerogative. I mean we all wanna "rock and roll all night, and party every day", but at some point you have to actually remove your head from you ass and get your shit together. But, hey, that's just me......and what the hell do I know, right.

Edit: I guess this post doesn't have much to do with being an x-ray tech, but it's my blog and I'll abuse the rules if and when I wish....got it!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Full Time Position

So, time for an update. At the time of my last post (May 2008), I was working per diem at the hospital here in Flagstaff and waiting for a full time position to open up. Well, shortly after that (in July) a full time position opened up on the weekend. Although it wasn't my first choice it was nice to get a real position and receive all the benefits that come with it (Health insurance, PTO, 401(k), etc.)

Since then there have been some big changes in my life. My wife and I wasted no time in buying our first home. We had been saving since I got out of school and in August we closed on our first place and we spent the next 2 months painting every room, replacing the carpet, landscaping, installing blinds, etc. We still have a lot to do on the house, but of course it will probably always be a work in progress. Another change is that, in Nov., we got an Irish Setter puppy who we named Curry. She is A LOT of fun, but also A LOT of work. Totally worth it though. Click here to see some photos of her if you are interested.

Since this is a Radiography blog I suppose I should talk at least a little bit about that. Working the weekend shift is pretty different than working during the week. On the weekend there are only two people working (counting me) from 7a-11a and usually one of them is in surgery for most of that time. So as a result you really have to be pretty self reliant to work that shift. Some days it's great, you don't have anyone breathing down your neck, but other days it would be REALLY nice to have at least one other person there, if for no other reason than to help you move patients. I work 7a-7p and 12 hours can get pretty long, especially for me with my back problems. My back will usually hold out for about 9-10 of those hours, but the last two are usally pretty painful. See my next post for an update on my back issues (again, if you're interested). But on the other hand, it is pretty AWESOME to only work 3 days a week and have the other 4 off. It also allows me to pick up extra shifts for a little extra money here and there. I like my coworkers on the weekend and I think we work pretty well together, which is important when it's really just the two or three of you most of the time.

Working by yourself has really forced me to "hone" my skills as an x-ray tech. There is no one there to help you or do an exam for you, so you have to be pretty good at what you do. I am no longer so intimidated by working the c-arm in surgery like I used to be (see some of my previous posts). I still get a little unsure of myself when I work with a new doctor, but I've realized that most of the docs at this hospital are pretty good and if you have a question about what they want you to do, you can just ask.

Right now is a pretty busy time in the ED at FMC since we just got a couple of big storms that dumped a lot of snow in town, so on the weekends there are a lot of people from out of town (read: Phoenix), coming up to go sledding and skiing/snowboarding at Snowbowl. And, surprisingly, 80% of the injuries are from sledding. In fact, last weekend we had no fewer than 3 fractured femurs from sledding. What I want to know is, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THAT YOU FRACTURED YOUR FEMUR!!?? My God!! The femur is the strongest bone in the body, and it takes an unimaginable force to fracture it. So I will be happy when the novalty of the snow wears off and people stop coming up here to go sledding. Aside from an unusual amount of femur fractures last weekend, the majority of the injuries we are seeing in the ED are wrist and ankle fractures (slipped on ice) and spinal compression fractures (from landing on their butt while sledding or snowboarding). I guess this is the time of year when all the ortho docs really make their money.

So, of course, since I'm posting I have to do the obligatory plug of my photography. I've added several photos to my collection since I last posted, so, if you are insterested, you can see some of them at the link below:


Take care everyone and I hope 2009 treats you well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Well, I imagine there aren't too many readers left for this blog and it's my own fault. But if anyone is still left out there, here's an update.

I graduated in late December of 2007 and took the registry exam 2 days later. Unfortunately, the results took a couple of weeks to get to me, but when they finally did, I found out that I PASSED!! I ended up getting a score of 96, not too bad if I do say so myself. I was hoping for at least a 90 and was VERY pleasantly surprised when I got the results.

A little about the registry exam.....It was very serious business. They fingerprint you before you go in to take the test and then scan your fingerprint again if you leave to use the bathroom and then again when you come back. You are monitored via cameras the whole time to make sure no one cheats. The online account that my school provided use for doing practice tests and for studying before the exam was very similar in format to the registry exam software, so it already felt familiar when I sat down. I believe you are allotted 4 hours to take the test but I finished in 3, even though I was shooting for getting done in 2. Other than that I can't really say much about the registry exam. It felt VERY, VERY good to get it over with and although I came out of the test not feeling very confident that I did well, I at least knew that I had passed. Our teacher had told use over and over in class that if you feel like you failed coming out of the exam it is actually a good sign and it likely means that you passed. It was true in my case as well as several other people from my class to whom I talked after taking the exam. Either way, I am very happy to have it over with.

The most annoying thing about it all was that it took several weeks (about 6) to get my actual license in the mail and unfortunately, in the state of Arizona, you can't work until you can produce your actual license for your employer. So I spent the better part of January at home on my butt, unable to work. But once I got the license I started work right away at Flagstaff Medical Center here in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, since a full time position was not open they hired me on a per diem basis, which means I am not garanteed any hours each week, but rather fill in for people when they are sick or on vacation. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for a full time position to open up but it has worked out fairly well so far. I have averaged about 28-30 hours per week for the past several months. However, it will be very comforting to finally have a concrete, full time position, which may happen in July sometime. Keep you fingers crossed for me.

So that's where I am now. I still love my work (most days! :-) and still learn something new each day. I am feeling much more comfortable in surgery, which was a weak spot for me for a long time. My skills were recently really put to the test when there was an 80 car pile up on I-40 just outside of Flagstaff and the ED was immediately flooded with about 50 injured people. The hospital called a Code D (disaster code) and called in extra employees from every department. It was amazing to see all the techs working so fluidly and it felt good to be part of that team.

Anyway, if there is anyone left reading this blog I thank you for hanging in there with me. I still plan to update it from time to time and let you know my progress in my career. My future plans involve landing a full time position (obviously) preferably on day shift, as well as getting cross trained in bone densitometry. After that who knows!

Another major change in my life is that my wife and I finally bought our first house. We close on it on July 31st, and can't wait to have a place of our own. Flagstaff homes are very expensive in relation to the average income, so getting into the market is very hard. Fortunately, because of the burst of the housing bubble, it's a buyers market and we were able to find a great house that was in our price range that we would never have been able to afford 2 years ago, even if I hadn't been in school. In short, 2008 is shaping up to be a great year. :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Our latest review section is actually full of some really morbid stuff. For example did you know that it takes more than 5000 rads of radiation to fry your central nervous system, with death occurring in 0-3 days. If I got blasted with 5000 rads I would be hoping for closer to the 0 day mark than the 3 myself. Yikes! Also, it only takes about 200 rads of full body exposure to destroy your bone marrow, circulating blood cells and lymphatic tissue, causing death in 10-60 days. Yeah, happy thought, huh.

Anyway, the moral of the story, kids, is PROTECT YOURSELF from radiation at work and clinicals. Granted the amounts of radiation we work with are extremely low compared to the numbers I quoted above, but.....Think of it this way, too much radiation protection can never hurt you, but too little protection sure can.

Also, the three body parts that are most sensitive to radiation are the lenses of your eyes, your thyroid and your gonads. So don't forget those lead aprons and thyroid shields when you're in fluoro. And why not pick up a pair of leaded glasses (or BCGs), you can even write them off on your taxes as a work expense. Something to think about. We wanna keep all you radiographers out there happy, relatively unirradiated and able to reproduce. ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


My whole last semester is review, which is good because I haven't thought about Compton scatter and the like since we first learned the material almost a year and a half ago. Our school has provided us with an online account that allows us to take practice tests that are set up just like the registry exam.

We can control how many questions there are on each test as well as which subcategories they come from (e.g. patient care, positioning & procedures, physics, techniques, etc.). It has been extremely helpful in studying for the Registry exam. I don't feel ready to take it yet, but I will soon. I just need to keep studying. Speaking of that, I better get to it. It seems to help if I take 1 or 2 30-question practice tests each night when I get home from clinicals. That way I've gone thru a large number of questions in a fairly short amount of time. Works for me!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Me = Slacker

SLACKER!!! That's the word to describe me. At least in regards to this blog. I cant believe its been so many months since my last post. Unforgivable! With that said, please forgive me!! I've been so busy with school, clinicals, summer travel, my photo blog and various other things that I have completely neglected this blog. Sorry.

In a nutshell, school is going well. I'm half way thru my last semester. I cant believe it. The other night my wife and I were reminiscing about how long ago it seems that I started my program. Its been less than 2 years but it feels like so much longer. I have seen and done so many things in that time. I've grown and changed as a person and done things I didn't think I could ever do. But having said that, I still have A LOT to learn. We all do, I guess. That is one of the things about radiography that really interested me in it in the first place. You never stop learning and experiencing new things. Some good, some not so good. But at least they are new.

On the school front I'm doing well. I have finished all my competencies. My last was the skull, go figure. I did a great job if I do say so myself. It was actually on a Behavior Health patient who was very unpredictable. I must have had a rapport with him though because he cooperated perfectly for me, even though I was half expecting him to take a swing at me at any moment throughout the entire exam. Either way I comp'ed and it was my last one. Yay me!

I'm becoming pretty proficient in surgery and fluoroscopy, which is good because in 2 months and counting I will be on my own on that front. I still need to get more experience with children though. For whatever reason, we don't seem to get too many kids in our dept, so I don't have a lot of chances to "practice" with them.

Monday, July 16, 2007

RT Wannabe

Check out this blog, RT Wannabe, by a new Rad Tech student in the Southeast. Just two posts so far, but I have a feeling there will be many more to come. Show your support to a fellow RT student.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Goin' Good

Hey Everyone! Sorry for the "Long Time, No Write" situation. Everything is going pretty well in my clinicals and I'm pulling straight A's in my two classes, Pathology and Film Critique. They are starting to let me do a lot more on my own at clinicals, which I really enjoy. It really gives me the freedom to solve problems on my own, instead of someone just telling me how to do something. Granted, I'm not as fast as most of the other techs, but my images sure are starting to look good.

I have to say I'm pretty lucky. From what I've read on other Rad Tech student blogs and heard from classmates, the techs at my clinical site are extremely supportive and patient with me. Even though I do complain sometimes (especially about surgery rotation), I'm really happy to be where I am and am looking forward to getting hired on there once I graduate.

As for competencies, I only have 1 mandatory and about 5 elective comps left to test off on. Unfortunately, my last mandatory comp is of the skull, which we very rarely get, since most head trauma patients go straight to CT. But I'm hopeful that sometime soon I'll get a nice juicy, walkie-talkie outpatient to do my first and last skull on. The positioning for the skull is actually pretty easy if you have a cooperative and fairly mobile patient. The routine positions for the skull at my clinical site are PA Caldwell, AP Towne, both laterals and the good ol' SMV. So cross your fingers for me that I'll get that soon.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Flagstaff Daily Photo

If you're at all interested in photography, check out my new photoblog. It's dedicated to my amateur photography from in and around Flagstaff, Arizona. Here's a link to it:

I hope you enjoymy photos. Please don't hesitate to leave comments on this blog or my photoblog.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

X-ray Radiation vs. Visible Light

Recently, a reader left a comment on my blog asking how visible light is similar to x-ray radiation. And being the big nerdy, bookworm geek I am, I got right to researching it. His or her question was a good one and got to the very basics of Radiation Physics. Most of my classmates hated the Radiation Physics class we took first semester, but I loved it and found that I was actually quite good at understanding it. So hopefully I’ll be able to answer this readers question here, so that everyone can understand.

Visible light and x-ray radiation are similar in that they are both composed of photons traveling in waves, but differ in the frequency and energy of the waves. The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of several different types of radiation. From highest energy to lowest energy they are: Gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, microwaves and radio waves. The first three are what are called ionizing radiation. That is, the waves are so energetic that they can actually interact with and possibly destroy or alter DNA molecules in cells. This can result in the destruction of the cell, the organ or the creation of mutant forms of the DNA we call cancer. Hence, if you receive too many sunburns (caused by ultraviolet light from the sun), you may eventually get skin cancer. However, visible light, infrared light, microwaves and radio waves have such low energy that the waves are unable to interact with DNA and therefore have no effect on cell reproduction.

So in summary, all these types of radiation (x-ray, visible light, radio wave, etc.) are, in their basic form, the same thing. They are “packets” of photons that travel in waves. However, what makes them different is the frequency and wavelength of those waves (which is in itself a function of the amount of energy in the wave).

Having gone back and read the previous two paragraphs, I realized that I made x-rays seem like pretty scary and damaging things. In reality they are not. Not only does modern x-ray equipment use relatively little radiation to obtain a radiograph, but also, believe it or not, your body is mostly made up of open space, which the x-rays pass right through. Your body is also composed of lots of water and minerals (e.g. calcium) which are unaffected by x-ray radiation. While it’s obvious you don’t want to be exposed unnecessarily to x-rays, almost always the benefits outweigh the risks when getting an x-ray image.

I hope this answered the reader’s question and has helped you get a basic understanding of x-ray radiation, at least in its relationship to visible light and other radiation types on the Electromagnetic spectrum.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Since I was born in Canada, I have sort of a soft spot for my brethren to the north. So when I found this video on YouTube.com I had to post it here.

I can really relate to all the stereotypes about Canadians that are mentioned in this Molson Beer commercial, because when I first moved to the US I got a lot of the same comments.

Anyway, if you are familiar with Canada or Canadians, this commercial will make you laugh.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Yuck! I'm in surgery all this week. Not my favorite place to be. Although watching some of the surgeries like lap choles and IM roddings, I really prefer doing general x-ray exams or fluoro. As an X-ray Tech in surgery, you seem so removed and disconnected from the patient. For me, it also seems to be made up of long periods of boredom, broken up by short bouts of extreme nervousness and awkwardness on my part.

I'm not that great with the C-arm. I'll just admit it. And I think my CI knows that, so he keeps putting me in surgery every other week. I guess its good.....in a way. It forces me to get to know the C-arm and the quirks of each doc, and will ultimately make me a better tech, but man, do I hate being down there.

Firstly, I am stressed out the entire time, just waiting for the doc to get pissed cuz I did something wrong or I'm not doing something fast enough (e.g. I actually had the doc grab the head of the C-arm today and shove it out of the way, almost taking out a table to sterile instruments in the process! Jeez, ever hear of something called patience! I'm new here buddy!!).

Secondly, as you have all heard me complain about before, I've had chronic back pain for more than 7 years now, and wearing those lead aprons all day really takes a toll on the old "espalda".

Thirdly, F$%# it's cold in there. Why do they keep it so cold!!??.......Well, I know why....to keep down infection and all that good stuff, plus I think the docs get pretty hot in their sterile gowns. But could they bump the thermostat up a degree or two, so I don't turn in to a block of ice in blue scrubs?

Anyway, sorry for using this posting to complain so much. But it's my right, as a student, to complain, especially since we don't get a paycheck at the end of the week!! :-)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pathology Class

Having pathology class is pretty freaky. If you're not careful you could really become a major hypochondriac with all the information you learn in that class. Considering that our pathology book is just shy of 500 pages long, contains only pathologies that can be seen radiographically AND doesn't discuss some of the more rare conditions, it's enough to keep you up at night worrying about whether or not you have pleural effusion, renal vein thrombosis or a host of other weird pathologies.

The only thing you can do is, when you're not in class or studying, push that info into the back of your mind otherwise you'll never be able to get thru the day.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Hello again, everyone. Thanks to all for your kind thoughts and prayers for the loss of my grandmother. We are all doing well and dealing with her death in our own ways. I was lucky enough to see her quite recently in March when she was healthy and still up and moving around easily. That's how I want to remember her. Thanks again to everyone.

On a radiography note, I found out that one of my past radiography teachers started a blog, too. Although he doesn't work at my school anymore he still keeps in touch with his old students. So I thought I would post a link here to his blog. It's called Topics in Radiography and it details some "tricks of the trade" that he has figured out over the years. Could be helpful for techs and VERY helpful to new techs or student techs. Take a peak when you get a chance. Just click this link ---> Topics in Radiography.