Radiologic technologists can work different hours and have slightly different responsibilities depending on their employer. If they work in a hospital setting, they may be scheduled to work on call, whenever they are needed. Brian is a radiologic technologist at a small clinic, so his office is only open Monday through Friday from 8-5. Even in this smaller setting, Brian’s job is fast-paced and physically demanding. On a typical day, his schedule may look something like this:
8:00 a.m. Brian arrives at the clinic and checks to make sure his equipment has been properly maintained. He receives a referral from one of the physicians on another floor for a woman who has been complaining of chest pains. When the patient is brought to him, he lifts her in front of the x-ray machine that he will use to produce the images. He checks the distance and angle to make sure that the image will be clear and the patient will not be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation. The patient is also given a lead vest to wear to protect her. He begins taking images, which will be processed later and the results forwarded to the patient’s physician. The imaging process itself may take ten minutes.
8:30 a.m. Brian has a pregnant patient who needs an ultrasound. He applies a jelly to her stomach to allow sound waves to pass through the surface of her skin more easily. He uses a wand that produces high-frequency sound waves that are directed to the patient’s abdominal region. These waves are reflected back to the wand and Brian’s computer is able to pick them up and calculate the distance they traveled. The computer is able to create a black and white, two-dimensional image of the fetus, which is shared with the patient and her doctor. The entire appointment takes about 15 minutes.
9:00 a.m. Brian has some concerns with some of the equipment he has been using and begins to look into getting it replaced. He has to fill out specific forms and make a request with the purchasing office. While his current equipment is still functioning, Brian’s request emphasizes the potential issues with outdated or malfunctioning instruments in the hopes that the process can be expedited and he can give his patients the level of care he feels they deserve.
11:00 a.m. Brian finishes his paperwork and prepares for a rush of patients who need various procedures completed. These procedures may involve using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to develop two or three-dimensional maps of tissue types, fluoroscopy to visualize the digestive systems of patients and CT (computed tomography) scans to develop cross-sectional views of patients’ bodies. The procedures for these exams are similar in many ways to performing ultrasounds and x-rays. Brian is responsible for measuring patients’ vital signs, preparing their charts, and giving them instructions.
3:30 p.m. Brian begins to go over x-rays from prior patients. His reports are then forwarded to the patients’ respective physicians. This process may take a couple of hours to complete.
Throughout the day, Brian has to interact with patients, physicians and other health care providers both inside and outside the clinic. He works with patients of all ages, from ten-year-olds with growth hormone deficiency to elderly people suffering from a number of age-related conditions. He finds that the largest group of patients is postmenopausal women, who are at the greatest risk for bone loss.