School Progress (an update)

It’s finally spring break! I couldn’t be happier! This and Christmas break are the only breaks that we get at the school because you know, students taking up bachelor degrees are immortals! Nah, it’s just that we’re adults already and we should do adult stuff like worrying about our future through our assignment. :)) Kidding! Well, it’s the Lenten week (season) so it’s holiday here. I’m grateful for this school-free week because then my body can finally take the time to recuperate. All these roles (I’m a mom, student, gf, bff, friend, daughter, sister and a colleague) are making me insane sometimes because of lack of sleep and the stress I get from the deadlines and trying to have a social life in this time of pandemic.

Anyway, this semester started with the second part of clinicals or OJT (on-the-job training) in the hospital last January. This time I was back at Haukeland University Hospital (HUS) for the CT (Computer Tomography) clinicals for four weeks. I was excited and a bit tensed during the first meeting because I’ve never been on a CT clinical before and the last time I touched a CT scan machine was back in 2018 before I took a maternity leave. My clinicals last year was at the ER in Bergen and at Stavanger University Hospital (SUS) in 2018 and they’re both conventional X-ray clinicals.

One of the CT scan machines at HUS. Siemens Somatom Definition AS

I’m happy that I got another image modality the last time and in the right order too. Because this course always starts with the conventional x-ray then CT, MRI and so forth.

Unlike the conventional x-ray, a CT examination requires more time for the preparation. Depends on what type of CT scan examination, if it is with contrast or without contrast. If it is with contrast, the patient is required to have a PVC (peripheral venous catheter) in one of the arms. In Norway, the radiographer does this preparation. Then, it is also important to pay attention to the allergic reactions and contradictions to the examination.

After the CT clinical, I had to review for the exam that I failed last year. Because of the pandemic, exams are digitalized. Thus, turning the exams into home exams. While this type of exam sounds easy, no it’s not. At least not for me because I have a small kid in the house and radiation physics is not easy. I find it harder and brain draining because the exam load is more than doubled. So don’t tell me that I’m just pushing the button or else I’ll bite you! haha!

The control panel for the Siemens CT scan machine

Moving on, my efforts paid off after the stressful days and nights of reviewing for the exam and now I am qualified for the next clinical and it is after the spring break. This time I would be at the Oncology Department to work with radiation therapy. I’m ecstatic about this clinical since this would be the first time to work with a linear accelerator. At the same time, I’m sure that this is more challenging than my previous clinicals because this time I’m going to work with lots of cancer patients.

Till next update! 🙂

At what cost?

Some say that dreaming and dreams are free and that should be enough to reach it. My parents, mentors and friends have actually said the same. Of course I also did. But when I became independent and started deciding for my life, I have never looked back at dreaming the way I did when I was young.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am taking up Bachelor in Radiography in Bergen and this is actually going to be my second degree. Most of my friends and family told me that I am lucky that I do not have to think about money when studying, because they know that Norway is kind to all its citizens. Well, I cannot say that I am lucky but I cannot say I am not either. I do not go to school for free despite of the student support from the government because it is still loan. Only a certain percentage is given to us students when we pass the exams.

This semester, I had two OJT’s. The first one is more inclined to basic nursing at the ortopedic department at the hospital and the second one is at the ER, taking x-rays of patients with suspected bone fractures. I had lots of fun and there are lots to learn that I got sad during the last days of my duty. However, my days (and evening/night) shifts did not go flawless because of lack of sleep and being a mom at the same time is exhausting. But exhaustion did not stop me from waking up early in the morning and driving late at night because I love what I was doing.

My microeconomic professor once told us during one of his lectures that nothing in this world is free. That we never get a free ride in life. In one way or another, we have to pay whether it is in monetary form, energy or for instance time. If you choose to stay at home rather than attend a lecture to save lunch money, yes you have probably added more to your savings but at the same time you pay for the missed information/knowledge.

Both of my OJT’s this year made me realized that it is never easy to work for your dreams. There is always turbulence along the way even though the skies are clear. In my case, every day at the hospital and the ER is very educational and memorable but at the same time stressfull and sometimes filled with anxiety because some shifts are just really busy and energy draining.

So, the cost of my dream this semester is two weeks of migraine attacks, stiff neck, a trip to the ER, time away from my little one, tears and a minor car accident.

On-the-Job Training

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One of the x-ray labs at SUS

In the past few weeks, I was at my very first OJT at Stavanger University Hospital. I was assigned at the radiology department to take x-rays of patients coming back for a check up. The lab that I was assigned to during the first week is a big one and the most common examination is the pelvis and hips. The patients are mostly elderly and adults, though once in a while we got babies and toddlers too. The first day was the busiest because we had like 30 patients during the shift. Well busy for me since it was my first time. Also, I am a student so I cannot just take all the patients and besides, first day is mostly observation for us students. However, after lunch my supervisor let me take atleast a couple of examinations.

Moving on, after a day I was allowed to both take my own x-rays and to assist the radiographers while they lecture me about the protocols in the department. I found out that there is a difference between theory and what is practiced in the hospital. Also, the hospitals have different set of protocols too, so it is important to read and study them. My supervisor is a hands on one which I appreciate a lot because I heard that some of my classmates had supervisors who did not care about them. Anyway,  she made sure that I learned something from her tips and advice by letting me work independently while she was standing in the back. She only interfered when she saw huge mistakes but other than that I was allowed to do whatever I want as long as I was working according to the guidelines and protocols. At the end of the shift, we talked and discussed what things that I needed to be better at.

The OJT was only three weeks and I can say that I have learned a lot when it comes to working in a hospital, patient care and interaction, the department’s administration routines and radiographer as a profession. The experience has also proved and shown me that working as a radiographer is more than pushing the button. Yes there is the button but it is not the only thing about this profession. Like for instance, an x-ray technician should have knowledge about anatomy, radiation physics, medication, nursing and elderly care.

Other than my supervisor, I also got the opportunity to work with other radiographers in the hospital. I found out that the seniors use some techniques that the newer generation would not. I am grateful that they have shown me how to for example do the projections the other way as well.

To end this post, I want to thank all the radiographers and radiologists who I’ve worked with in this short OJT period. Thank you so much for your knowledge, patience and kindness.