My Job As a Cat Scan Technologist
My Experiences Working As A CT Technologist
When I graduated from high school in 1991, I attended a community college. I was working my way through school, so it took me about 5 years just to get my general AA. At this point in my life, I am sad to say that I still had no clue as to which career path I should take. Then things changed rather abruptly.
In 1995, I became pregnant with my first child. Her delivery was difficult, a c-section after 30 hours of labor, and my recovery was even harder. I ended up getting pneumonia. The funny thing is, though, after having to get several chest x-rays done, I now knew what I wanted to be. An x-ray technologist! So, after a few months of recovery time, back to school I went.
The radiography program was tough, and that's no exaggeration. They really, really make you work for the degree. I attended school, year round, for 2 years. During the school week, we would be in the classroom for two days, and at hospitals doing our practical work or "free labor" for the x-ray technologists the other days. After being in the program for a year and a half, I had finished up on all the practical experiences I was supposed to complete.
At that point, I was allowed to visit and observe some of the other departments in radiology. It was evident to me that I found my calling in doing Cat Scanning. A Cat Scan, or CT Scan, is an imaging device that uses x-rays to take images of different parts of the body. This sort of imaging is known as Computed Tomography, which means the images look axial like slices of your body. I was a very fast learner of the technology, and luckily was offered a job before I graduated radiography school, as a CT Technologist. As long as I passed the certification tests, and I did, I was in the door.
I worked at a trauma hospital in a state where they have 2 bike weeks a year and a huge NASCAR event. The hospital has the third busiest emergency room in the state. Motorcyclists do not have to wear helmets here, so I bet you can imagine how busy the Cat Scan Department can get. When I was there, I saw things that I never wish to see again in my life. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. Just most of it.
It's an awesome feeling to know that you are helping someone to find out what is wrong with them. A good majority of the time, nothing is. It was great working with uninjured children, and getting hugs from elderly patients. Sometimes just a simple thank you from an anxious patient that you helped get through the exam was all the reward I needed. The job offers great pay, and it was exciting working in a fast passed trauma center.
I experienced seeing many children that were in horrific accidents. This just tore my heart out, as I would relate them to my own children. They were some of my best patients, because they were too frightened to move or speak.
We had multiple trauma patients that were bikers. The ones that wore their helmets were usually the ones that made it in to us. The sad thing about most of them is they were almost always drunk and combative. Many of them were very angry that their leather riding gear had been torn off so that they could be treated. They usually had to be strapped to the table because they would refuse to hold still for the exam. Of course, biker's weren't the only drunk people we had to scan. A good amount of my patient's had been drinking and got into some sort of accident, either by a fall, fight or car.
I once scanned a patient who was caught in her trailer when a tornado passed by. Her trailer was found some 300 feet from its starting point. She had multiple broken bones in her back and was now a quadriplegic.
And then, there was my coworker and friend that I had to scan. He hadn't been feeling well for a while, so his doctor ordered him to get a CT Scan done. As I scanned him, I saw metastatic cancer all over his body. I was devastated and didn't know what to do, especially when his scan was over and he wanted to look at the images. He ended up dying a few weeks later.
I once had a crazy patient that was crude and violent. She refused to cooperate with me, and did not stop talking during her whole exam. When she was done, she told all of us she was reporting us to the president of the hospital. She then proceeded to tell me, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, "I hope your baby dies!"
Traumas can get quite gory, and the clean up afterwards is horrible. I will leave it up to you to imagine the mess that comes from a trauma from when a sky diver's parachute didn't open, a motorcyclist gets in an accident with no helmet on, or when an attempt at a suicide with a gun fails.
Eventually, the bad and the ugly aspects of being a CT Technologist surpassed the good parts. I am no longer in the medical field, and again find myself looking for a new career path.
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If you ever had a Cat Scan, did the technologist treat you right?
Daytona Beach, Florida
The trauma center where I worked as a CT Technologist.