Sweat is beading and rolling from my forehead down underneath my mask and dripping from my chin onto the control panel of the c-arm fluoroscopic unit I’m currently using to image an ankle undergoing hardware implantation. I cringe as my lead thyroid shield comes undone and falls to the filthy OR floor, but instead of going without it I quickly wipe of the grime and reattach the shield around my neck. There is a moderate amount of stress in the OR, especially as a student who has never utilized this technology before, especially while wearing the ceil blue full-body jumpsuit, hairnet and surgical mask… Especially as a renowned orthopedic surgeon is testing your competence and critical thinking skills… I’ve seen him rip into other techs in previous weeks, and I’m praying that I get through this without any obvious mistakes. I’ve noticed that the OR can be a brutal environment for students and seasoned techs alike, though my goal is to have an excellent first experience manning the controls.
I’m radiography student in a small but beautiful Midwestern town with, likely, more bars per-capita than anywhere else in the country—or so I’m told. I’ve finished one year of school, and have one year to go before achieving my associate’s degree. It’s been interesting, in the classroom things come easy—from physics to positioning to radiation protection—but in the clinical setting I’ve been nervous… trying to get my bearing. This summer that has really turned around. I’ve been doing exams on my own with minimal repeats, and I’ve been successful with difficult patients and in difficult situations. There’re certainly off days that I’ve had, and there’re certainly some techs who inherently add to the stress of my day and unintentionally make me nervous and sometimes faulty. Some techs seem to have forgotten what it’s like to be a student… they’re impatient and have a set sequence that governs their exams: first place the marker, then get the tube into detent, then position the patient, etc, and if you deviate from their expected system and attempt to find your own way through the madness, they berate you for not following instructions. But I should definitely not complain, because the majority of the techs I work with day in and day out are absolutely wonderful and positive people who love to see their students succeed in their endeavors.
We’ll see what next week brings…. Hrmmm, will it be an infamous BE or an infant-VCUG? Who knows… The only thing I’m aware of, is that I’m positively impassioned about this profession, I absolutely adore all aspects of it, from the chaos of the ER and the often pompous surgeons in the OR to the routine chest and abdomen series. This, radiography, is a beautiful thing.