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Radiology Life • February 2017

9 / ADVANCE FOR RADIOLOGY LiFE | COVER STORY done, they are put under stress right off the bat.” He added that this familiar scenario leads to longer hours for workers, longer waiting times for patients, and all-around dissatisfaction. “Additionally, some patients become harder to handle. For example, they may have medication to treat claustrophobia wear off by the time they get into the MRI scanner. You get deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole,” Southers explained. The push for throughput can also make for stressful relations between a manager and his staff. “The manager’s objective is to get as many scans completed as possible and to bring in money — hit the numbers,” Southers said. “But techs don’t want to feel overly rushed or overworked. They may feel it takes an hour to scan a particular patient correctly but are only allotted 30 minutes. That’s frustrating. It leads to angst among staff and can result in less-than-optimum patient care.” Lack of Upward Mobility — “The possibilities for upward mobility are decreasing for radiologic technologists,” said Southers. “and as a result some of them may feel ‘stuck.’ Historically, we were an associate degree field and we’ve limited ourselves as to where we could go. Today some of the more advanced modalities — like MRI, CT, interventional X-ray — require a bachelor’s degree. So there’s a much greater push for continued education. Otherwise, options are limited and RTs may experience the stress associated with burnout.” What’s the answer to stress? If ever there were an open-ended question, it’s that. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (a combination of mindfulness meditation, body scanning and simple yoga postures) is mentioned in literature as being helpful at reducing anxiety.1 Southers said the University of Cincinnati has introduced yoga and meditation into its programs for the purpose of stress reduction among students and faculty. But beyond relaxation techniques and the aforementioned forearming of the facts, Southers said that sometimes personal reflection leads to a unique path to stress reduction. He offered the following poignant and personal insight. “There was a point in my career when I was losing sight of why I got into this field. But one day I had a conversation with a patient that essentially changed the way I looked at my career,” he began. “I was working in MRI, and was super-busy. We were running behind schedule with patients, and I felt stressed and completely overworked. That’s when an elderly claustrophobic patient came in and initially I felt annoyed. I realized it was going to take a lot longer to complete her scan because of her claustrophobia. It was going to push us even farther behind. “But then something happened. She apologized to me. She told me that when I put her into the scanner it reminded her of being put in the train car that took her to a concentration camp during World War II. She told me she had been 15 at the time and she was separated from her family. She told me she never saw the male members of her family again. “The way I looked at my work changed from that moment on. That single encounter made me aware that any stress I go through is trivial compared to what patients experience. We never know who is on the other side of that order sheet. They have a name, an age, a birthdate, a diagnosis — and they have a whole life on hold. Stress on the job won’t go away, but patients can help us by reminding us why we are doing this in the first place — to be there for people who need our help. For me, it was a profound realization.” Valerie Neff Newitt is on staff at ADVANCE. Contact: vnewitt@advanceweb. com Reference 1. Hofmann SG, Sawyer AT, Witt AA, et al. The effect of mindfulness based therapy on anxiety and depression: a meta-analytic review. J Cons Clin Psych. 2010. 78 (2):169-183. Any stress I go through is trivial compared to what patients experience.” — Barry Southers, MEd, RT(R)(MR) Related Content For further tips on stress management to maintain health and maximize job performance, read “Managing Stress in the Workplace” at RadiologyLife.advanceweb. com FEBRUARY 2017


Radiology Life • February 2017
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