Friday, November 21, 2008

Musings from the world of Radiology

Well, the quarter is almost over, and I only have one more week left of rotations this year. We get next week off completely from school, and then I will have a week of rotations after that, then a final on the following Monday.

At that point, I will have enough clinical and classroom hours, in addition to clinical competencies, to begin working as a student radiographer in hospitals. A student radiographer is essentially just an X-ray tech who has completed enough schooling to get a state license to practice. So I am currently in the process of applying for part-time RT jobs in the hopes of being able to land a position somewhere, so I can work in the field for the next year as I finish my studies.

I have a phone interview with Good Samaritan at 2 p.m. today.

I started working at Target in August, and the new quarter began in mid-September. Since that time, I've only had 4 days completely off of work. I basically work 7 days a week between classes, clinicals, and Target. Since I'm off school next week, however, I'll have a few days off because I'm also off work from Target on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We are going up to Cincinnati for those 3 days for Thanksgiving. I have to be back for work at Target at 6 a.m. on Friday. That should be a barrel of laughs. The weekends have already started being zoo-like at Target, and since I am one of the better employees, they always put me in the Toys section, since that's the busiest. I can't imagine what it will be like the day after Thanksgiving.

I did two clinical rotations this quarter, one at Kentucky Clinic - which is the orthopedic and diagnostic clinic appended to UK Hospital - and the other at St. Joseph-Berea hospital, which is part of the St. Joe network.

I really loved it at Kentucky Clinic. It was busy and challenging, and they do all the diagnostic exams for Kentucky's basketball and football teams. So I saw several prominent athletes while I was there. I also got my first taste of trauma radiography, as we had several patients who had been in horrific motorcycle wrecks. One patient literally had pretty much every major bone in her body broken. Both legs, both arms, shoulders, wrists, pelvis, etc. She was lucky to be alive.

Another patient I saw there had a severely broken pelvis and femur from a motorcycle accident, and when she came in, she was quite delirious on pain medication. We weren't able to really communicate with her, but it was obvious that she was hot, because she kept throwing off her gown, which was more or less just covering her like a blanket. She was completely naked underneath, and we ended up just having to X-ray her with her laying there on the bed in the buff. That was definitely an interesting experience. There were two other techs - both women - in the room with me at the time.

Berea took me some time to get used to, but I managed to find a way to fit in there with the staff. I don't think I would want to work at a small hospital like that, but it has been okay, and there are a few people there that I really enjoy laughing with. Most of the staff are older than me and have been working in this field for a long time, so they have been a good help in terms of teaching me tricks and techniques. I haven't seen too much there that is off-the-wall, although we did have one patient come in with the tip of his finger sliced off. The paramedic came in with the finger in a bag of water. I've also gotten to observe and assist with a number of fluoro cases, including a barium enema - which I had never seen before. That involves injecting contrast through a rectal tip into the colon in order to view it fluroscopically. As the tech, I'll pretty much be the one who has to insert the tip, and we've already been taught how to do it, practicing on dummy rear-ends in class. I didn't tip the patient in question at the hospital, but I watched the other tech do it, and aside from being a very awkward thing to do, it doesn't look like it's very hard. The worst thing, from what I understand, is when the patient is unable to hold the contrast in, and it either leaks or explodes - as the case may be - out of the rectum, and the tech is left to clean up the mess. Fun times.

Fortunately, those kinds of exams are not nearly as common now as they once were. They've been replaced by things like CT and ultrasound. They do a lot of CT's at the hospital, so I've gotten to observe those quite a bit and assit with patients. I want to eventually get certified in CT, and possibly MRI, because the pay scale is higher for both those modalities. From what I can tell of CT, it appears to be quite simple. Mostly just computer work, although you do have to frequently start I.V.'s. That's something I've already practiced and been taught to do as well, although I haven't actually done one yet on a real patient - only volunteers at school.

I'm looking forward to doing a rotation next quarter at UK hospital on the second shift. UK is one of (I think) only two Level 1 Trauma Centers in Kentucky, so needless to say, they are very busy and see just about everything imaginable there. I've heard stories of X-raying corpses for autopsies (although I've been told they don't do autopsies at UK anymore) and X-raying detached body parts. One tech told me how she was doing a clinical at UK and got an order in for a forearm in the ER. She went down to the patient's room, expecting to do a basic forearm X-ray, and when she got to the room it was, literally, a forearm. And nothing else. The patient had already been taken to surgery and they were wanting an X-ray of the detached arm in order to try to reattach it. The arm was sitting there in a bucket of ice.

I know that's disturbing and bothersome, but I'm kind of excited about getting to experience all the realities of a Level 1 trauma center. A lot of people say they don't like it, but I think that it will be something I enjoy. One thing I have not liked about some of the places I have been clinically is that everything is so routine, and there is frequently a lot of downtime. I want to work somewhere where there's always something new and unexpected happening, and it is always busy. Maybe I'll do my rotation there and hate it, but I expect to really enjoy it. There's a reason that medical dramas are always popular on T.V. - it's because working in an E.R. is unique and exciting, and there is a lot of drama involved with that kind of work. You see things on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis that most people never see in their lifetime (if they're lucky!).

So that's pretty much that. Here's to hoping that something positive comes out of this phone interview I have in half an hour.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Jeez, when do you find time to blog? What a schedule! Hope your interview went well. Happy Thanksgiving!

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