National Medical Radiation Technologist Week is a time we can take a deep dive into the profession of medical imaging and thank the amazing workers that make it possible to see what is going on inside a patient. Even within the field, there is a vast range of imaging departments that our members are found in. MRTs can be found performing Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, x-rays, fluoroscopy, angiography, mammograms, and assisting with surgical procedures, for example, someone that may require a biopsy. MRTs also make requisitions for testing, monitoring incoming requisitions for urgency, and properly archive images for reports.

Mary was originally inspired to become a MRT during a job shadow experience. She saw a barium swallow being performed and was immediately excited by the science and technology of seeing what was inside a person. After becoming a licensed MRT in Canada and Saskatchewan, Mary took specialized courses to obtain a specialty certification in breast imaging. Helping to diagnose or rule out breast cancer is the most rewarding part of Mary’s job, telling us “One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and my job is to provide the best possible images under difficult circumstances, so that we do not miss any breast cancer, and try to find those treatable cancers as early as possible.” Whether receiving a hug from a CT patient undergoing staging scans, imaging neonatal twins, or performing an x-ray on a national sports player, the most memorable thing to Mary is simply the difference she makes in people’s lives.

COVID posed some never-before-seen challenges to MRTs. Increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), constant cleaning, and increased bedside x-rays were only some of the challenges seen by MRTs. These workers were the first to see the damage to a patient’s lungs and the first to come to the sad realization of what it will mean for them, either transport to a different centre for care or possible long term-lung damage. Mary had to wear full PPE for each mammogram she performed due to the close nature of the exam. She understood why many of her coworkers became burnt out and opted to retire early. MRTs are staffed at the hospital 24/7, and with increased workloads, ever-changing circumstances, and the knowledge that some provinces didn’t consider MRTs frontline workers, it was a challenge to keep spirits up.

Though Mary works in southern Saskatchewan in an acute care centre, MRTs can be found in many different facilities. They make a difference to the lives of so many and are just one vital piece of your healthcare team. Make sure you send them some praise and cheer this week for all the work they do.

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