Outside of photography, I work as a Medical Radiation Technologist. Our field is one that doesn't get a lot of attention, and even when it does, isn't very well understood, so I was happy to do a little featurette with work on the profession and the specific area I work in.
Since a word count was in place and it was meant to be a quick piece for the general audience, not everything I answered made it into the piece, so I've decided to put it here for a fuller picture. As always, thanks for dropping by!
What are your pronouns?
What is your proper title with KHSC?
Medical Radiation Technologist
How long have you been with KHSC total?
About 8.5 years
How long have you been in your current role?
About 3.5 years
What is the proper name of the department/unit you work with at KHSC?
For people who aren’t familiar with your department, how would you describe the services you provide?
This is difficult because our scope is so broad, but essentially we use various imaging modalities to guide minimally invasive procedures and interventions. This could translate into precise biopsies of deep tissues using fused MR/CT/fluoroscopy, something simpler like a PICC insertion, or something more complicated like treating brain aneurysms via endovascular coiling, or improving peripheral blood flow via angioplasty, to name just a few things in a very diverse catalogue of procedures. There's a lot of variety to our days.
How would you describe what an interventional radiology technologist ((apologies if this isn’t your proper title)) does to someone who has never heard of the position?
At our site, interventional MRTs are very involved in procedures, including scrubbing in and assisting our interventional radiologists. We are still in charge of operating imaging, but the adaptiveness, knowledge and equipment proficiency translates really well to handling procedural equipment and supplies in a sterile environment, how to operate and adapt their uses, often quickly and under pressure. It's a natural transition for many MRTs, though is constantly challenging!
Why did you want to work in this field?
Think of the last time you had some form of imaging done, what that uncertainty was like before, what it felt like to have answers after, and the feeling of having something to focus on even if that answer isn't ideal. Being a MRT means you are in a position to provide that clarity, reassurance, sometimes even hope. Our results are tangible, and this is even more so the case in IVR. Now we're using that imaging to intervene, and often times we see patients improve because of the intervention. Seeing blood flow restored to an ischemic limb, seeing stroke symptoms subside, those are results that are hard to not take some pride in having had a part in creating.
I hear working with stroke patients is something you really enjoy, why is that?
It is and it isn't! It's an extraordinary feeling to be able to be part of the team that can so acutely and drastically improve outcomes for a patient. It's also where - because of the fast pace of these cases where time is brain - we see our interventional radiologists, technologists and nurses really shine, and to be part of such a skilled team inspires me to be better at what I do. That said, it's often quite stressful!
How important of a role do you/your team play when it comes to stroke care? I hear your team and the work you do is critical for endovascular thrombectomy, one of the most transformative advances in stroke care in the past 25 years, how so?
Treating stroke is a complex process and our stroke team is amazing at it. What we can provide is another option besides relying solely on clot-dissolving medication. By physically retrieving the blood clot in the brain under imaging guidance, and being able to immediately assess the vasculature angiographically, we can provide a literal clear picture of the location and extent of a stroke before and after our intervention. EVT provides a clinical clarity that is hard to beat. If memory serves, the EVT program had its own feature last year, and that feature is well worth the read!
Are you proud of the work you do? Why?
There are good days and bad days. It's hard to be "on" all the time, and sometimes we have days where despite our best efforts, things don't go our way. I've definitely had my fair share of bad days, but I'm grateful for a supportive team and leadership. When you work in a small team under intense pressure, you get to really "see" your colleagues, and I think we do a very good job utilizing each others' strengths and helping each other improve and develop new strengths. Of that, and of our abiility to deliver quality care as a team, I'm quite proud!
Who is Ralph outside of KHSC? Is there one thing people would be fascinated to learn about you? Or do you have any interesting hobbies people would be fascinated to learn about?
Radiography and photography have a lot of similarities, so naturally I've explored that a little with a camera my dad bought me in my teens. I've recently put them up on a website. You might have also seen me at the climbing gym, swing dancing or controlled mountain bike falling.