Job seekers all over are bombarded with forecasts claiming that the health care field is slated to grow at leap and bounds. Simply telling job seekers about anticipated growth in the sector does very little to guide them into specific occupations in the sector in which they may be interested in pursuing. First time labour market entrants as well as those in career transition often want to know what is involved in a specific occupation to help assess its suitability for their personality and interest, to name a few.
WINN is committed to present information from practitioners in a variety of fields. WINN presents the results of an interview with a technologist who works in the health care sector. Here is the interview in its entirety.
What is your occupation?
At the moment I am working as a sonographer. A sonographer is a professional who performs all types of ultra sound (eg. abdominal, pelvis, smallparts, obstetrics etc.) An X-Ray Technician is someone who performs all different kinds of X-rays Both of these occupations are regulated and require a license. In Ontario, the occupation comes within the scope of the Regulated Health Professions Act, and similar statuted in other provinces.
- For how long have you been working in this occupation?
I have been working in this occupation for a long time now. Actually, I have been working in this occupation for in excess of 18 years. I have worked in this occupation in both Ontario as well as Quebec, where I lived for a good chunk of my life.
- What kind of education do you need to get into this job?
Post-secondary education is required for sure. In my case I graduated from high school where I took a lot of science courses. I then went to college /university where I enrolled in health sciences and then to got into a three year radiography program. .
- How long was the course?
The education system in Quebec is a bit different in Quebec as compared to, Ontario. I migrated to Toronto and enrolled in the Michener Institute to do the post diploma in ultrasound. So, what I am about to tell you applies to Quebec, but may be a bit different in Ontario. I took x-ray in CEGEP for three years, followed by a one year ultrasound, post graduate course. Incidentally, the post-graduate course in ultra sound is available through reputable institutes such as the Michener Institute which is affiliated with Toronto General Hospital.
- What kinds of things do you do in your job?
The job is fairly involved and requires proficiency using several large and complex equipment. We are responsible for doing all of the preparatory work necessary for take medical images. After preparations are complete, it is my job to take x-rays for all body parts and special procedures like barium and gastric studies for intestines Ultrasound for all the organs , pregnancies, and biopsies etc.
- Tell me a bit about the kinds of places that you have worked in doing this job?
This job is performed typically in a hospital, community health clinics, or in some cases private medical diagnostic clinics, dedicated to the production of medical images that are primarily used to help doctors in their diagnostic activities. I have worked both in hospitals and private, medical diagnostic clinics.
- How is it different working in hospital as compared to private clinics?
A technologist working in a private medical diagnostic clinic typically takes images of patients who are mobile and whose treatment is not immediate or as time sensitive. Work load in a private clinic setting tends to fluctuate, given that the business works on a referral basis. However, workload in a private clinic can be quite hectic when the clinic is busy and because of the need to ensure profitability.
Working in hospitals is more challenging in may respects. Hospitals are institutions that receive all forms of illnesses and human conditions, many of which are emergency in nature. A person with a gunshot wound, trauma cases, stretchers , patients unable to move, isolation cases, etc. Often in a hospital environment the need to produce the image can be a matter of life or death. Time is of the essence in these cases. Treatment and diagnoses are sensitive matters. A technologist working in a hospital environment will typically have more exposure to a broader range of clinical practitioners than in a private clinic setting. I guess a hospital environment provides more opportunity for inter-personal interactions and a broader opportunity for learning.
- What are some of the risks involved in working in this type of job?
The biggest risk is exposure to Tuberculosis’, MRSA, other respiratory illness and communicable diseases, particularly those that are airborne. As a result, whether one works in a clinic environment or in a hospital, it is necessary to follow proper procedure and protocol to prevent disease transmission. There is also a negligible risk associated with long-term exposure to the various electromagnetic energy associated with x-ray, and other diagnostic images.
9. What are some of the precautions you need to take in the performance of your work?
We take a variety of precautions to protect ourselves and on-going health. Among other things technologists wear masks, gowns, and gloves. Proper hand washing procedures are critical as is ensuring lead shielding for x-ray are always worn..
- Do you prefer working in hospitals or a private clinic? Why?
I prefer to work in a hospital environment. Hospitals are better because for experience in new diseases. Furthermore, there are usually radiologists on site to explain cases. The work in a hospital environment is not only more certain, but often more challenging. Working in a hospital is also a better option ff job stability and fringe benefits are important factors then working in a hospital environment is a better option. Private clinics tend to be smaller employers. I prefer to be in a larger type of work context than smaller outfits. Finally, there is way less job security in a clinic environment as compared to a hospital.
- What is the range in pay that one can earn in this job?
Compensation levels fluctuate from place to place, even in a hospital environment. Salary is typically based on experience and credentials, In hospital environments, pay levels are often set by the terms of a collective agreement that govern the terms and conditions of the occupation. Regardless of whether a hospital is unionized compensation typically follows a scale range that differs for each hospital and clinic, as well as the number of hours worked.
- You have been the owner of a clinic. How did that come about?
Yes. I did own a clinic at one point. It is just one of those things that came about—a chapter of my life that is now closed. I guess I owned a clinic just to have the experience of owning a business and to give myself a change from the hospital environment. That is my answer and I am sticking to it..
- Would you recommend someone buying a clinic?
I would recommend someone get a clinic if that person has the money to do it and if they are able to find a license for sale (those are the two most difficult factors). It involves lots of hard work but can be beneficial if successful.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of the work you do?
For me, the most rewarding part of the job is being able to help diagnose the cause of the patient’s illness and have my work product form part of the patient’s treatment plan for symptoms, pathologies etc. It is elating to see a patient getting better.
- What is the least rewarding aspect of your job?
I personally do not enjoy the long hours that are sometimes involved in this work.
- What are the five most important things that people who want to get into this field should know?
You must have:
- the required credentials and knowledge usually obtained through a variety of science courses.;
- being able to work in a challenging environment like the hospital,
- patient care skills;
- being able to get along with others;
- the flexibility to work a variety of shifts .
These are the main things that I can think about at this time.
- You have already said a bit about this. Can you elaborate on the hours of work involved in your occupation?
A lot of times it is left up to a technologist to determine the total number of hours worked, inclusive of over time hours in employment circumstances. Regardless of where one works, the hours can be long and cut into one’s social life quite a bit. Working evenings and weekends is often required when working in a hospital environment. Of course, this sometimes mean lack of sleep, particularly when shifts change.
- What are some of the frustrations associated with your job?
I have a long commute to the hospital at which I work. For me, long commuting to the job is most frustrating at times..
- Are there opportunities for advancement involved in this occupation?
There is always opportunity for advancement like becoming specialized in other modalities such as CT,MRI,NUCLEAR MEDICINE etc, getting a degree , study further to become a radiologist.
- What are the top five trends affecting your occupation at this time?
There are multiple trends happening at this time that either generally, or specifically affect the occupation. I am just listing some of these trends below:
- Though technology is changing rapidly and improving on diagnostic possibilities and accuracy, there just seems to be additional problems with the machine malfunctioning;
b- computer problems seem to be increasing, particularly with viruses and the maintenance of patient privacy in the wake of wide-spread hacking.;
c the level of stress associated with dealing with sick and dying patients seems to be becoming more acute. Of course, this may lead to a larger pool of people being off work sick, which in turn may cause occupational demand;
d-. new entrants to the occupation sometimes are lax. They are not as meticulous, many of them. Consequently, the risk of being exposed to radation may rise in the near future,
e- one always has to be careful to avoid being exposed to needle stick ,or infection particularly with the every constant introduction of new viruses, and infection possibilities , for example ebola;
I am sure there are a lot more emerging trends that affect the occupation, but these are the ones that I can think about at this time.