Celebrating medicine's unsung heroes
Health: Medicial radiation technician week is Nov. 5 to Nov. 11
Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 11:28 am
Usually at the front line of diagnosis, radiation technicians are often the unsung heroes of the medical world.
Their efforts are recognized during Medical radiation technician (MRT) week at the beginning of November each year. This year, MRT week is from Nov. 5 to Nov. 11.
Jess Kraneveldt, who is based out of a Canada Diagnostics Centre (CDC) in Calgary, said every day is different in MRT because technicians will either perform x-ray, fluoroscopy, mammography, do bone density testing or handle pain injections. Her favourite is mammography.
“Screening for breast cancer is extremely important, and it’s very rewarding when you can help diagnose a patient early,” said Kraneveldt.
Kraneveldt lives in Okotoks and spends a few days per week at the local CDC location. She’s been an MRT for the past five years.
“I knew right from high school that this was what I wanted to do, so as soon as I was done high school I applied to SAIT,” said Kraneveldt. “I’ve always been interested in the medical field but not necessarily wanting to be a physician, so this was a program where I could get my feet wet and then go from there.
“But I got a job with CDC right out of school and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Kraneveldt graduated in 2010 in Port Alberni, B.C., on Vancouver Island. She moved to Okotoks and began attending SAIT. She said she finds the entire profession rewarding, being at the front line for diagnosing what’s happening in someone’s life.
Doctors often order x-rays or other tests to narrow down an illness or ailment, which puts MRTs in a unique position, she said.
“I would consider an x-ray tech at the front line in terms of diagnosing what’s going on with a patient,” said Kraneveldt.
It takes a lot of hard work to get to that point, she said. The MRT program at SAIT is an intensive two years, she said. The first year is a series of courses from September to June, followed by a 12-month practicum from September to August, she said.
Kraneveldt did her practicum year in Lethbridge at the Chinook Regional Hospital, which she said is a totally different world than working at CDC.
“In the clinic we have primarily ambulatory patients, patients who walk in, they’re on in any type of isolation, they don’t have any really major illness or disease,” said Kraneveldt. “Patients in the hospital can range anywhere from being in the operating room to in a huge trauma accident, so it’s completely different.”
She said the job is also more physically difficult than most people realize.
Not only are MRTs on their feet all day, they are often wearing heavy lead aprons to protect themselves against radiation and they’re moving patients and equipment around for hours at a time.
“It’s a strenuous job,” said Kraneveldt. “You have to be willing to work hard. It’s a rewarding job, but you also have a lot of skills you need to keep up and it’s physically demanding.”