Well, I'm about to start my third week of clinicals. Things are going really well, I believe. I'm enjoying what I'm doing (which is a good thing, since I'm spending so much money and time), and I think I'm doing as well as could reasonably be expected of a student X-ray tech.
I did my first official X-ray on a real patient on September 25. The patient was a middle-aged white male, and I did a chest X-ray on him, and it turned out fine. I've done dozens of X-rays now, but I still can't help but be a bit apprehensive when I wait for the films to come out of the processor, fearing they will be bad. I've only had to repeat a couple so far, and one of those was not one I should have repeated, but my head tech made me do it.
For those who don't know, I'm doing this rotation at a local prison. It's got a fully-staffed medical center, complete with doctors and nurses. I really like it, and my head tech/supervisor is really good. It's also interesting seeing what it's like "on the inside." It also puts things in perspective a little bit. We generally take our freedom for granted (and when I say "freedom" I mean our physical freedom to come and go as we please...not life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), but when you work in a prison, you suddenly realize how precious that freedom is. Every day when I leave that place, I think about how glad I am that I can drive away. Sometimes, I'll be sitting at home, or at a restaurant, or on the boat down at the lake, and I'll think, "I'm sitting here right now, free as a bird, and so-and-so, who I X-rayed two days ago, is still sitting inside that prison, and hasn't left, and will still be there next week, and the next week, and next year." It really puts things in perspective and makes you understand the gravity of having to live your life in prison. Believe me, it's not something you want to do.
But while I enjoy where I am at, and I like the fact that I get to do a large quantity of exams and a wide range of exams, there are some drawbacks to it as well. I feel like I am being limited a little bit in terms of being able to practice "real world" X-rays. Since all the patients are prison inmates, you treat them differently than you would treat patients in the outside world. They specifically warn us against chatting with or being friendly with the patients. The inmates are not allowed to call us by our first names. So the bedside manner is different. You tend to be more detached and less friendly. You don't ask about the weather or about how someone's family is doing. You basically tell them what they need to do, and that's the extent of it. I usually don't even introduce myself.
Also, since the prison is 85% male, we do very few X-rays on females. In fact, in my first two weeks, I haven't seen one female get X-rayed. There are also, obviously, no children or young people. It's basically all adult males. So I am not getting to have experience with different genders and ages. We do get old people, but no young people. And that's important because technique is different with youths, and you also have to worry more about movement and instructions, etc. Additionally, being a male tech, I would like to have some practice with female patients, as the bedside manner is different. You have to be more careful how you touch and position a female patient, you have to get used to asking female patients to remove their shirts and bras, etc., if you are doing a chest X-ray on a large breasted woman, she has to move her boobs to the side, you have to ask if a woman is or could be pregnant, etc., etc., etc. So there's just a lot of stuff there that I am not getting to experience or practice because of where I am located.
The important thing, however, is that I am enjoying what I'm doing, and I feel like I have made, and am making, the right career choice. When you've decided to go into a field like this, there is always that fear that you'll get out into clinical rotations and decide you hate it. It doesn't appear that this is going to be the case with me. I'm looking forward to continuing on with classes and rotations, and getting finished with the degree so that I can work in hospitals and do fluoro and maybe MRI or CT, and give something back to the community. Not to mention make a decent salary for the first time in my life.