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Successful Medical Imagers Need Good Interpersonal Skills

Medical imaging professional

When you think of medical imaging professionals (i.e. ultrasound technicians, radiologic technologists, MRI techs, nuclear medicine technologists, etc) you may tend to first think that their skills and knowledge are mostly related to technology, anatomy and diagnosis. While of course these are essential components of their career descriptions, there are other significant areas of expertise—people skills.

A Recent X-Ray Appointment…

 Yesterday I accompanied a family member to the diagnostic imaging lab at our local hospital. She was there to get X-rays performed on her knees. She was quite nervous because of her mobility and breathing difficulties.

We sat in the waiting room as my family member tried to recover from the walk down the hospital hallway. The radiology technologist came out and introduced himself.

“Hi I’m Chris. You’re here to get some X-rays done,” he confirmed with a friendly smile.

“Is it okay if I rest for a few minutes?” she asked.

“Of course it is! I’m here for you,” he said warmly.

The technologist then went on to gently explain that she would climb up one step to stand on a platform for a couple minutes. He wanted to make sure she was comfortable with this. My family member said she was. When she was ready, they went into the X-ray room to start the exam.

As I was waiting, I noticed a poster (created by the NSAMRT, 1995) hanging on the facing wall. It described the role of medical radiation (radiation therapy and nuclear medicine) technologists with the following acrostic message:

TThoughtful

E Experienced

C Caring

H Hardworking

N Nationally certified

O Open minded

L Listeners

O Observant

G Givers

I Interested

S Skilled

T Teachers

S Sensitive

As I read and re-read what each letter of technologists stood for, I could hear Chris, the radiology techn, say comforting words like, “Let me know if you need a break,” “How ya doing?” or “Take your time.”

It dawned on me, from reading the poster (caring, sensitive, givers, open minded…) and listening to the X-ray tech in action, how patient care and interactions with people played such a profound role in the medical imaging field. I also found it interesting how qualities like observant and thoughtful crossed over into both scientific/technological and interpersonal competencies.

If you are currently a medical imaging professional, or are striving to be, you can take pride in knowing that your practice relies on a well-rounded set of skills and talents.

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