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Next Imaging Star May Already Be On Your Team

Relate and SubstantiateIt isn’t just technologists that keep the medical imaging department afloat. We have a need for talented ancillary staff that are efficient and compassionate. A cohesive team is the best approach. By incorporating positions that will allow technologists to take care of the work that requires their expertise and training others to perform the other tasks, we will become more efficient while also making sure that we are able to give personalized attention to each of our patients.

Whether it is our medical imaging assistant team or our patient access team at the front desk, they are essential for providing the patient experience that we are hoping to achieve. Often these talented folks work to become technologists or organizational leaders. They bring real life, patient-forward experience to their next role that cannot be learned in a book. 

There have been many articles written recently about the technologist shortage and strategies to recruit to fill our staffing needs. We are partnered with college programs to be able to create relationships with student technologists before they even start their career. This allows us to set expectations, identify those that will fit well into our culture and provide exemplary care to our patients.

Often the next great tech is already employed by us. We have had several employees that started in a medical imaging support position evolve into a rad tech, MRI tech, CT tech, US tech, a manager, a RIS system administrator or IT senior director. We have examples in each of those categories within Banner Imaging. 

Imaging is one of those unique fields that no one really knows about until they get their feet wet. People may become curious about imaging by knowing someone that already works in radiology, through being a patient, reading an interesting technology article or just looking for a steady job with benefits. 

When we are recruiting for support positions, we should be looking for those curious about how they can achieve more. It may take time for someone new to imaging to figure out this is something they would like to pursue. We all know that some days are better than others. But as a person becomes more comfortable in their position and the more time spent in a particular modality, it may become clear that this is something that would be rewarding to grow into.

Students that graduate from a program that we have a partnership with but started as one of our own, will have a leg up to new graduates that do not have that previous clinical experience. That is something that can’t be taken away no matter where you end up next.

We should encourage those rock stars on our team to pursue the next step and celebrate with them when they are successful. Some educational programs have special consideration for employees of clinical partners so they can move up a wait list to begin a program. This can be advantageous for not only the student but the employer as they are able to potentially rehire an already good employee in a new role. It may be an enticement that fills those support positions as a quicker way to achieve a goal of becoming an imaging professional.

When we celebrate Rad Tech Week, we celebrate ALL our team members. We want to make sure that every person in every position understands they are essential to take care of our patients, providers and each other. When things go well, we can share the credit. When things don’t go quite as well, we can support each other and help to learn how to handle stressful situations better.

I feel so fortunate to have found a career in medical imaging. It is such an incredible mix of all that is exciting and intriguing about health care. We have the science, the technology and the human interaction. We have the opportunity to make a difference all while we are constantly learning. The best part of it is that it all moves so quickly we don’t have time to get bored. I often say that every day is the same, but every day is different. 

If you have team members with high potential to grow, I encourage you to plant the seed. Allow them to fill stretch assignments or shadow in an area they are interested in. Discuss what opportunities are available and identify how this is beneficial to your department and to the individual. These could be life changing conversations. It is about tuning into our team and figuring out the best way to achieve success for all of us.

I am tired of hearing “think outside the box” so I will use an idea from a comedian popular in the 1980s, Gallagher. He had a bit about how his baby daughter inspired him to see things with “new eyes.” It is true that if you look at things from a new perspective, as though you have never seen them before, you may find something that you did not realize was there. Maybe there is a team member in a support position that would benefit from looking with new eyes at the opportunities available to them. It may be something they never considered before. 

By looking with new eyes, we may discover creative solutions to many problems. Forget thinking outside the box. That baby with new eyes sees that box as a fascinating new toy. We can turn that box into whatever we want it to be.

Thanks for all you do! 

Beth Allen, RT(R)(CT), CRA, is the director, clinical operations at Banner Imaging.

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