Have you ever wondered how the highest quality image of inside the human body can be taken in the safest way possible? This may sound like an odd question for most, but for many radiological technologists like myself, I’ve pondered this question more times than I can count!
I’m Michael Osborne – a Carbonear local and since 2011, a dedicated employee of Eastern Health in the Diagnostic Imaging department at Carbonear General Hospital.
As a youngster, I was known as the kid with the big heart. I consider myself lucky to have a natural tendency to be empathetic towards people, and as a result, I’ve always found it rewarding to help those around me. These are the qualities that I believe have led me to the career that I love and am proud of today.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I knew without a doubt, that I wanted a career in health care – one that would allow me to work with different kinds of people – and one that would enable me to make a difference in the lives of others. Based on these interests and much career exploration, I chose the area of radiology.
After obtaining my educational qualifications, a tremendous opportunity came up – a position as a medical radiation technologist in Carbonear. These types of positions have key functions in the health-care system since many diagnosis and treatments are based in part by the results of diagnostic imaging procedures such as X-rays, ultrasound, mammography, CT scans, and more. I recall that I was overcome with glee the day I found out that the job was mine – it was like a dream come true.
Very early in my career at Carbonear General Hospital, I found that there was never a dull moment. Diagnostic Imaging departments are fast-paced and are designed to deal with the constant balancing act of getting quality images and ensuring patient comfort and safety at all times.
Diagnostic Imaging departments house X-ray emitting machines; the procedure rooms are built with lead walls and employees follow strict guidelines to ensure radiation safety and the provision of consistent quality patient care.
While most of my daily activities occur within the Diagnostic Imaging department at Carbonear General Hospital, there are times where my duties require me to go to other areas of the facility to perform what is known as mobile radiography. From the Emergency Department to the operating room to intensive care and everywhere in between, my fellow radiological technologists and I are there whenever and wherever we are needed!
Mobile radiography consists of taking X-rays at a patient’s bedside. It is used in instances when a patient’s condition does not permit them to be transported to the Diagnostic Imaging department for examinations. These situations often present challenges to obtaining consistent, good quality images.
Under high-pressure situations, I need to use both my education, experience and judgment – often in split-seconds – to produce a diagnostic quality X-ray.
Fortunately, as time has progressed and technology has evolved, hospitals now have access to devices that are changing the way patients are being cared for. In my opinion, one crucial piece of technology that has revolutionized diagnostic imaging services at Carbonear General Hospital is the new digital mobile X-ray machine, funded by the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation.
Before the purchase of this machine, once an image had been taken, I would have to return to the Diagnostic Imaging department to process the image to see if it was of acceptable quality for use in diagnosis. If it was not, the process would start from the beginning, where once again, patient movement or medical condition may put the process of getting a good image at risk.
The digital mobile X-ray unit is the result of innovations in digital imaging and wireless technology. This mobile X-ray device produces a digital image that can be viewed on a screen mounted directly onto the mobile X-ray machine, which enables a technologist and physician to immediately see the results.
Benefits of going mobile
The benefits of mobile X-ray units are plentiful. I can give four examples, to name just a few.
- Convenience: The X-ray image can be discussed directly at a patient’s bedside. If necessary, additional images can be taken without moving a patient again.
- Reduction of pain, discomfort and damage: This device significantly reduces the possibility of pain or discomfort for patients.
- Better exams, better treatment plans: Any factors that may have caused an image to be of inferior quality or non-diagnostic can be evaluated and adjusted so that another X-ray can be taken immediately, resulting in a more suitable image. The ability to make minor adjustments based on visual feedback has allowed health-care providers to produce a better exam, which in turn enables patients to have a better treatment plan due to increased accuracy and consistency of diagnostic reports and procedures.
- Reduced radiation exposure: With the mobile X-ray unit, there is a decrease in radiation exposure required to produce images. As a result, there is a reduced amount of radiation exposure in the surrounding environment. This is a great design feature because it not only reduces the radiation dose to the patient, but also to the technologist performing the exam and other individuals who may not be able to vacate the area while the exam is taking place. This benefit is especially crucial for patients who may require multiple mobile exams.
My place of pride
With the acquisition of the new digital mobile X-ray unit, I’m prouder than ever to call the Diagnostic Imaging department of Carbonear General Hospital my place of work! Each patient, family member and health-care provider I’ve worked with over the course of my career has made me better at what I do – and for that I’m very grateful.
Renewing Eastern Health’s Diagnostic Imaging Program with the latest medical technology closely aligns with the organization’s new 2017-2020 Strategic Plan – Lighting the Way: Navigating Together. It’s equipment like the digital mobile X-ray unit at Carbonear General Hospital that helps make a difference in the provision of clinical services to the men, women and children we have the honour of serving each day.
Reflecting on the past six years, I can see clearly now that my career has given me a gift – the gift of variety and satisfaction. Since I started working at Eastern Health, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented health-care professionals in a wide range of situations. Each day, I am challenged to think critically on my feet. But most importantly, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of helping thousands of patients and their families from all over Newfoundland and Labrador during their times of need. My interactions with patients may be short, but they sure are meaningful as my goal is to make every patient’s overall experience a better one!
This is Medical Radiation Technologists week. Thank you to all Medical Radiation Technologists for your commitment to providing safe, high quality care for patients.
This story was written by Michael Osborne, radiological technologist at Carbonear General Hospital, and Zelda Burt, communications manager at Eastern Health.