It’s a bird, it’s a plane ... it’s an imaging technologist?
Known as superheroes to many, imaging technologists save the day for care teams in our hospitals and clinics using imaging tools like X-rays, MRIs and ultrasounds to identify and diagnose internal problems.
Beyond broken bones
Not many Fairview employees can say they touch every department in the hospital—but Mark Swickley, radiologic technologist in general X-ray at Fairview Ridges Hospital, does.
“I get the pleasure to work with so many departments and help so many people in a variety of ways,” says Mark.
Using his X-ray vision—actually, it’s a form of electromagnetic radiation—he takes images of internal structures.
“My role at Fairview Ridges is so much more than what people think,” says Mark.
Images produced by Mark and his team provide valuable information about a patient’s health and play an important role in helping doctors make a diagnosis.
We have about 250 imaging techs within several specialized fields at Fairview, including:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
- Nuclear medicine
- Interventional technologists
Each specialist does something a bit different, but with the same end result in mind: capturing an accurate image.
More than what meets the eye
“Taking an X-ray takes more skill than what most people think," says Mark. "Some think you place someone on the table, push the button and that’s it. However, first you have to envision the image you want and then accurately position the patient. My role really is a blend of both artistry and science."
During surgery, imaging techs take pictures to ensure placement of devices or help with joint repair or replacement.
“The biggest challenge in my job is taking an X-ray during surgery. Not only is the equipment slightly different than the radiology department, but it’s also a sterile environment and we can’t
touch anything—including the patient. This is when the art of envisioning what you want the image to look like comes into play.”
“Getting the thumbs up from the surgeon is what makes my day,” says Mark.
Why they do it
Kellee Ablard, manager of general radiology and imaging support services at Fairview Ridges, believes imaging techs must have an eye for detail, strong social skills and a desire to work as a team.
“Before becoming a manager, I performed X-rays and mammograms," says Kellee. "Even though I miss direct patient care, I feel I am still positively affecting patients by providing the tools and training to help my team be successful.”
Making sure patients are comfortable and safe is Mark’s goal.
“Many patients I see are in a great deal of pain and are asked to do things or get into positions that are difficult, given the situation,” explains Mark. “I’ve worked with patients and their neck is stabilized or they can’t move their leg. You have to think out of the box to take an accurate images for the radiologist to draw a conclusion."
Some patients have a concern about radiation exposure.
“Generally radiation exposure from an X-ray is low and the benefits from the test far outweigh the risks. I take the time to educate and reassure them about exposure risks,” says Mark.
Being a superhero isn't easy, but Mark and his team strive each and every day to provide the best patient experience.
“Taking the right picture for an accurate diagnosis and making sure my patients are comfortable and safe is my goal."