November 6-12 is Medical Radiation Technologist Week, a time for us to extend our thanks to all the amazing MRTs in our healthcare system. They provide a wide variety of services that include general x-rays, fluoroscopy, intra-operative imaging, and radiology. They also assist with minimally invasive procedures such as biopsies, drainages, embolization, mechanical thrombectomy, and vascular access, like inserting a PICC line. MRTs are vital to heart attack and stroke patients, so you will always find a MRT in the hospital or on call.

Lisa began her career as a Medical Radiation Technologist in a central Saskatchewan acute care facility nearly a decade ago. She was inspired to enter the field by the technologists that helped her through her own medical imagining as a child. After two years of postsecondary education, Lisa became a dual trained technologist, working in both x-ray and interventional radiology. This means each day never looks like the one before, which is something Lisa enjoys. “Every patient is different. I get to hear so many peoples' stories, and at the end of the day, I've made a difference with the care I have provided,” she tells us.

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, work drastically shifted in Lisa’s department. Instead of having patients come to the lab, the MRTs performed procedures right in the patient's room. Portable x-ray machines were moved around daily, and there were even times that biopsies and PICC insertions were done at the bedside. These fine, delicate procedures were made very difficult with all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is required to keep them safe—such as gowns, N95 masks, face shields, gloves, and lead aprons. PPE also made communication with patients a struggle, as MRTs need to position patients and communicate instructions, sometimes on the worst day of someone’s life. But Lisa is optimistic, she feels herself and her coworkers slowly recovering as more staff are hired and the workload returns to normal.

Medical Radiation Technologist make a huge difference in the lives of patients and our health care system. Lisa recalls an instance of assisting with a mechanical thrombectomy in a stroke patient who was unable to speak or move half their body. The procedure was a success and the next day, she saw the patient feeding themselves and speaking. This is the kind of difference MRTs make, and we thank them all for their amazing work.

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