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Radiologist technician at work

Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, examine X-rays at the clinic, Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. After the technicians review the X-rays for accuracy, they send the images to the radiologists at the Air Force Academy for further examination. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, examine X-rays at the clinic, Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. After the technicians review the X-rays for accuracy, they send the images to the radiologists at the Air Force Academy for further examination. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Pictured is a radiopaque marker at the radiology clinic, Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Radiopaque markers are used to show which part of the body is scanned. The marker also serves a legal purpose to verify the technician’s analysis of the scan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Pictured is a radiopaque marker at the radiology clinic, Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Radiopaque markers are used to show which part of the body is scanned. The marker also serves a legal purpose to verify the technician’s analysis of the scan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- In the medical field, doctors rely on other clinical departments to treat each patient. When it comes to diagnostic imaging, doctors seek out radiology. Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, detect medical issues using radiology.

“Here at Malmstrom, radiology is X-ray and MRI,” said Broyles. “With our imaging, we provide patients with as much information as we can so they can make the best decisions for their health.”

“Our work is not just pushing a button,” said Eastman. “A lot of it is the positioning, knowing what we’re looking at and setting the amount of radiation correctly.”

As a patient begins radiology diagnostics, the first step is to complete paperwork and the technician will confirm the specific body part that needs to be scanned.

While preparing the patient for their scan, technicians go through a certain set of procedures to ensure the scan is done in a proper and safe manner.

The technician aims to achieve the best scan while using as little radiation as possible to prevent too much radiation from entering the patient’s body, said Broyles.

Before scanning the patient, a small device which will show up on an X-ray, is placed on the side the body that was scanned.

The image is sent to radiologists at the Air Force Academy where they will read the images for findings. Once the technician receives the radiologist’s findings they will follow up with the patient to determine further steps.

Mission in the 341st MDG

“One of our main roles in the mission is maintaining the health and wellness of our Air Force family,” said Broyles.

“Every X-ray technician uses the phrase ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ according to time, distance and shielding,” said Broyles.

Time refers to exposing the patient to the radiation for the lowest amount of time possible. Distance refers to having the X-ray tube the proper distance from the scanned body part. And shielding, which are garments infused with lead, shield certain parts of the body.

Technological advances

Technological advances to radiological equipment has made Broyles’ and Eastman’s jobs easier.

“The progression of X-ray equipment has definitely helped emergency medicine and the flow of servicing patients go more smooth and fast,” said Broyles. “Time management is essential in our career field, and this enhanced technology definitely saves us and our patients a lot of time.”

With the improvements to this technology, radiology equipment has become indispensable to modern medicine.

This resource can detect cancer early or discover a fracture and can find more serious ailments. Diagnostic imaging equipment is at the forefront of preventing and detecting medical concerns, according to Broyles.

“With our technology we can discover there is a lot more than meets the eye,” said Broyles. “Most of the time, we don’t know what’s going on inside our body. Radiology gives doctors more tools to keep people healthy.”

Rewards of the job

While the job challenges of being in the medical field can sometimes be difficult, the rewards of the job make the difference.

“I enjoy working hand-in-hand with other healthcare providers to support our patients,” said Eastman. “Just being able to help the patients and find what’s going on with them makes our job fulfilling.”

Not only are diagnostic imaging technologists trained to perform and analyze scans but also they are trained in other clinical roles.

“We don’t only perform X-rays,” said Eastman. “We can also respond to medical emergencies.”

The week of Nov. 4-10, people across the country observed National Radiologic Technology Week. National Radiologic Technology Week recognizes the vital contributions diagnostic imagining technologists provide to the medical field.

The year’s theme was “Powerful Together.” To Broyles and Eastman, this phrase has strong meaning to their role in the mission.

“Powerful together means teamwork,” said Eastman. “It’s not just about coming and getting an X-ray. We’re involved with the entire clinic. We work hand-in-hand with everyone involved in a patient’s medical care.”

Above all else, the Airmen working in radiology want their patients to know they’ll be taken care of and receive the best treatment possible.

“When a patient comes in, I treat them is as if they’re my family,” said Broyles. “If a patient comes in upset or hurt, I do everything I can to say, ‘Hey, it’s alright. You’re here in our care now, let us do what we do best and get you taken care of and help with your pain.’”
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