This week is National Radiographers and Radiation Therapists week! We are shining a light on the valuable role of all medical imaging professionals in health care. The team is made up of medical staff, medical imaging technologists, nurses, clerical staff, medical physicists, and assistants.
We spoke to Medical Imaging Technologist, Trish Cahill, to find out more about her role at the hospital.
Can you tell me a bit about your role and your team?
I work in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with a team of ten MRI radiographers. The RCH has four magnets – the intra-operative MRI (IMRIS), the 1.5T clinical scanner, the Murdoch Institutes 3.0T research scanner and a PET/MRI scanner.
As a radiographer, we perform the MRI scans on patients. This includes everything required to get patients get through their scans, such as screening MRI safety, cannulating when contrast is required, positioning them in the MRI room, and setting up the MRI scans. We spend some time developing a rapport with patients so they can hold still for up to an hour or more to achieve their MRI scans.
We work closely with anaesthetists who are required when children are too young or unwell to engage in a movie and hold still for MRI, the child life therapy team who explain processes to children in an age appropriate manner, and nursing staff who help look after patients in MRI. MRI images then get reviewed by a radiologist who writes a report on the imaging findings for the referring physicians.
How did you get started as an MRI Technologist?
After school, I enrolled in an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering. I wanted to work in the development of radiology equipment. I loved radiation physics and X-ray, and I found the concept of putting a patient in a huge magnet and somehow getting amazing images mind boggling. I quickly realised a career in engineering would involve a lot of work with equipment and not much human interaction. I changed into radiography so I could combine my love of physics with my passion for working with people. I wanted to be a direct part of the patient journey and help people to find a diagnosis. I spent a few years doing general radiography, and then two years working in computerised tomography (CT) in the United Kingdom before training in MRI at the RCH seven years ago.
What do you enjoy most about it?
I really enjoy the multidisciplinary approach in working in radiology at a tertiary hospital. We get to work with so many wonderful health care professionals on a daily basis, including child life therapists, nurses, anaesthetists, nuclear medicine technologists and referring physicians to help diagnose, stage and prognosticate patients at the RCH. It takes a whole team of people to achieve every patient examination. We couldn’t do our jobs without the support of everyone including reception, nurses and radiologists.
I also really enjoy the variety of work. Every patient is different with unique presentations and clinical questions. We get to meet patients of all ages and sizes – from the premature babies to teenagers that tower over you! We learn to adjust our technique so that all patients presented to us leave with diagnostic imaging. I love that we have the opportunity to help patients and their families on the patient journey. Kids are so resilient!
What is something about radiology that most people wouldn’t know?
The 3.0T magnet is around 60,000 times the strength of Earth’s magnetic field!
Do you have any career highlights?
I love that radiology uses the same technology all over the world. I’ve had the opportunity to do a two-year working holiday in the United Kingdom. I’m also lucky enough to have a locum job in X-ray at the snow, combining my love of snowboarding with trauma X-ray!
Have you had any stand-out patient interactions?
I have had so many beautiful interactions with the kids and their families here at the RCH. We see children and their families on their hardest days and have the opportunity to try and make their patient journey easier. Working in paediatrics, we get to see our regular patients grow and change. When an oncology patient grows up and makes it through their first awake scan after years of anaesthesia, the joy and pride on their faces is wonderful. It’s hard to say goodbye to kids when they graduate from paediatrics and transition into adulthood. I feel proud when you look back and remember when they used to require nitrous for cannulation and motion corrected MRI sequences, and now don’t even require their parents to support them into the scan room.