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Radiology Life • February 2017

8 | ADVANCE FOR RADIOLOGY LiFE | COVER STORY cation can make an RT desirable when it comes to hiring. But RTs who are already in a job and lack multiple certifications are now under some pressure to expand their field of capabilities. “Certification in an extra modality is a decent amount of work,” Southers explained. “Think about MRI, for instance. If you train while on the job, you have to complete at least 125 procedures that have been supervised by someone who can attest that you have successfully completed them. And while you might have four years of experience in, you still have to prove your competence in physics and anatomy, too, on a certification examination. So often when you are on the job, you learn to do various tasks, but to get certified you need to be refreshed in the academic aspects. You have to prove yourself in every aspect.” Southers also noted that having responsibility for more than one modality can create stress if one of those areas is not practiced with consistency. “In this field, you must consistently repeat a task to stay sharp. If you are pulled onto MRI for a period of time, then later are sent back to X-ray, it could take a decent amount of time to get back up to speed. And if you don’t do MRI for six months, you have to get back in it and figure out how to do it again. There is a certain amount of re-learning that must take place.” Every Platform is Different — Alas, not every MRI scanner or CT system is exactly the same. Multi-tasking and facility-hopping requires understanding multiple technological platforms. And that, for some people, is extremely stress-inducing. “It is like learning how to use a Mac versus a PC,” Southers said through a chuckle. “Multiple platforms perform the same functions, but there are so many different ways to go about it. I tell my students, ‘If you go on a Siemens scanner versus a Philips or a Toshiba, you will have to learn how to use that entire interface from scratch. If you go to a different machine, it’s like starting all over again.’” Southers added that it does not only happen to those traveling between facilities or healthcare systems. “It routinely happens within the same hospital,” said Southers, “and sometimes within the same department. You may walk 20 feet down the hall and the scanner is completely different from the one you were using five minutes ago. There is a stress that comes with knowing you must be competent on so many different pieces of equipment.” Workload can be Excessive — Radiologic technologists typically carry a very high workload. “Certainly hospitals want to make sure they are staffed, but rarely — if ever --would employees say they are adequately staffed,” Southers said, affirming that understaffing in one aspect of the workload problem. Another is the sheer volume of tests ordered. “There is a significant — tremendous — amount of these images being ordered. When I worked in the field, prior to teaching, there were days one scanner would do upwards of 20 to 25 MRI scans in a single day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.” Asked why there are so many scans required, Southers said it is a combination of factors: higher morbidity of patients requiring more extensive assessments and fear, on the part of clinicians, of missing something that could lead to litigation. “Patients come in and the first thing that happens is they get evaluated and then a procedure is ordered — MRI, CT, ultrascan, X-ray …” Southers said. “Let me be clear: These are important, but literally almost everybody has something ordered, especially when a diagnosis is unclear.” The immensity of procedures ordered runs in tandem with a push for throughput in most radiology departments. “I remember working in a department where the push on throughput was huge,” Southers recalled. “We worked under what seemed to be a performance-based budget. We had to prove our worth by doing do many scans per day. Techs came in at 7 a.m.; by 7:45 they were already tired. “That still goes on,” he lamented. “When a radiologic technologist knows there isn’t enough time in the day to get all of the patients Multiple credentials are becoming the norm … (it) can be a source of stress for employees.” — Barry Southers, MEd, RT(R)(MR) / FEBRUARY 2017


Radiology Life • February 2017
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