Wow, folks. I really apologize for the relative scarcity of posts lately. Not that there are thousands out there hanging on my every word, but I know some people like to check out this blog on a somewhat regular basis and I hope I don't lose those readers. You know who you are! ;-)
Anyway, the past two weeks have been my first two weeks of clinicals in radiography. For those of you who have done clinicals, you know the first few weeks are the most challenging. Everything is new to you, there are about a million things to learn and more is expected of you than you think can be done in a lifetime. But so far I'm surviving and keeping my head above water, well most of it anyway. My chin and mouth sink below the waves from time to time.
At this hospital the Out-patient radiology dept is separate from the in-patient radiology dept. In fact they are on opposite sides of the hospital from each other. I spent my first week in the out-patient dept and was paired up with another rad tech. Let's call her L, for anonymity's sake. The out-patient dept is relatively slow I came to find out, although it didn't seem that way to me at first. In out-patient we do rather routine examinations like chest x-rays and x-rays of the spine, extremities and ribs, as well as mammography and DEXA scans (bone density scans). These are exams that are not emergent, don't require complex equipment or doctors and very little, if any, prep is needed on the part of the patient.
I was able to observe and take part in several exams. My first couple were for the L-spine, the pelvis and hip, the wrist and the foot and lots and lots and lots of chest x-rays. Chest x-rays are so common, in fact, that they have a room entirely dedicated to doing just chest x-rays. Chest x-rays are ordered for anything from shortness of breath (SOB) to pneumonia to suspected fluid in the lung. Luckily this is a fairly simple exam and I have already done several myself, with tech supervision of course. I suspect that a routine chest x-ray will be the first exam I "comp" on. (comp = competency, doing the entire exam successfully myself with no corrections from the supervising tech).
This week was different however, in that I wound up in the in-patient dept. Which means a whole new batch of procedures and exams to learn, and learn quickly. Luckily they partnered me up with L again (most of the time) and she is a fantastic teacher. She has only been a tech for 3 years, which helps because she remembers how overwhelming everything can be at first and how much there is to learn and how little time there is to learn it.
In the in-patient dept they take care of all the other imaging exams that the out-patient dept doesnt. This includes all exams ordered for pts (patients) in the ED (Emergency Dept), those staying in the hospital, the maternity ward, and the OR. They do procedures that require fluoroscopy and the portable x-ray unit, and procedures that are more "invasive" like BEs, UGIs, esophograms and IVPs. Nuclear medicine, CT, MR and ultrasound are also assocated with this dept, however, specially trained techs do those procedures.
I'm finding out that it's all a very complex operation and there are about a million little details to get right for everything to turn out correctly. I have seen and learned a lot in the 2 short weeks I've been at clinicals, but I still have a long road ahead of me. I hope I can make it. Wish me luck.