Medical television shows suggest that a day in the life of a radiology tech is filled with dramatic developments as patients learn they have life-threatening diseases, but the reality is that most of the job involves adjusting precise machines to be able to pick up small details. The majority of radiology pictures are not to search for brain tumors or find wayward cancer cells, but simply taking reading on broken bones so that a doctor can determine how best to set them. As such, a radiology tech’s job is less about sitting behind a computer than preparing patients and setting up radiology devices.
The reason that radiology machines cost millions of dollars is that they are extraordinarily precise. These scanning devices can increase magnification to make a finger joint appear on a screen with the size and picture clarity of a plasma screen television. The techs and nurses who work alongside doctors as they make diagnoses are responsible for keeping the technology required to take such readings accurate. This involves calibrating the scopes on dozens of different cameras and repairing loose parts, keeping scanners in mint condition for a proper read.
Often, one day in the life of a radiology tech will involve younger children having a body part scanned. Techs need to explain the procedure to children to prevent them from struggling or panic while being subjected to repeated scans. In the case of full body immersion into such machines, such as an MRI scanner, these techs must determine if children (or grown patients) have fears of small spaces or prior experiences that would keep the x-rays from an accurate and clear reading. Precise pictures need to be taken, whether a tech is scanning a chest cavity or a small toe, so it is necessary to instruct the patient what position they need to sit in for a perfect reading.
X-rays themselves project harmful radiation capable of killing cells, though the low doses of radiology machines tend not to be more powerful than a few minutes’ worth of exposure in the sun. This can still pose dangers, especially to senior citizens and small children, making the tech’s job require protecting a patient from radiation. Usually the only part of the body requiring protection is the reproductive organs, as sperm and egg cells are especially vulnerable to x-ray radiation. The reproductive organs can be easily covered with a lead skirt; some times a protective belt is administered for a full body scan.
One of the benefits of working as a radiology tech, compared to other medical professionals, is that the hours are usually routine. Radiologists tend to work a nine to five shift, unlike surgeons who may be on call at all times of the day and night. Techs, in turn, may have to do paperwork before or after their shift, but still benefit from going home relatively early. One day in the life of a radiology tech will be a combination of calibrating instruments, taking pictures, and working with patients for a good diagnosis.