My first rotation on the medical and surgical track was radiology. I started off shadowing a radiologist tech that specialized in the ultrasound. We visited the nuclear medicine area first, and it was eye opening to see this side of radiology.
They use small amounts of radioactive materials to help visualize certain diseases. I never knew there was this side of radiology, let alone four others including x-ray, ultrasound, CT, and MRI. The radiologist tech specialized in ultrasound had to rush to the emergency department to do a scan so she let me hang out with another radiologist tech in CT. I was lucky enough to shadow here on a busy day; once one patient was done with their scan there was another one needing a CT scan from the emergency department. I got to see many different patients with a variety of potential diagnoses including pulmonary embolisms, strokes, and a break of a bone.
The first gentleman was an older guy that came in with a complaint of having pain in his elbow. What I loved about this patient is that he treated me like I was an employee myself at the hospital. He asked me to help him hold his glasses and kept cracking jokes with me about his hospital stay. It was nice to know that patients view us, youth residents, like any other student learning the ropes.
Another thing I learned was that to be a part of the medical field you need to have empathy and to not judge anyone coming into the hospital. I personally already knew about these necessary characteristics, but to see them play out right in front of me confirmed it.
For example, there was a patient who came in and said she smoked a ½ pack of cigarettes a day and then further goes into how she has been in hospitals a lot over the past few months. Right before the CT scan she started crying, and what did the radiologist tech do? She came over and reassured her that everything was going to be fine, and when she was done with the scan the tech joked about the cigarettes with her. It was amazing to see the light in the patient’s eyes. You could tell that she did not feel judged about her smoking habits or feel uncomfortable from crying in front of us, all because the radiologist tech showed the patient empathy and did not judge.
I also saw that a patient’s health can change in a split second, and you have to be ready.
Another patient came in as an outpatient for a routine scan after her cancer treatment. While her scan was being read she was rushed to the ER because of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in her lung). It was unbelievable to see this patient look okay and calm one minute and then hear that she was rushed to the ER the next.
Some other things I learned was that it is important to push some of the fluid out of the syringe before giving the IV fluid to a patient to prevent any air bubbles entering the veins. Also in order to get contrast fluid for a CT scan you need to be at least 20 years old because of the size of the needle, which I thought was very interesting.
All in all, my shadow of the radiology section was one of the most interesting rotations so far, and I have learned a lot even though I was watching only CT scans the whole time. I learned that radiologist technicians see most of the patients have to be empathetic and assertive to get their jobs done in a timely matter.