Taking the Long Way to Medical Radiation Technology

By: Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

Lynn Watson-Lee took the long path to Medical Radiation Technology. She went to Saint Mary's University in Halifax right after graduating from high school, and ran out of money before she was able to finish her B.Sc., so she got a job at a local nursing home and trained as a Personal Support Worker. Eventually, she finished her B.Sc., and continued to work in healthcare. When she moved to London in 2004, Lynn started working with VON, doing home care. She enrolled in the MRT program at Fanshawe College in 2006, and graduated in 2009, with her MRT(R) designation.

Lynn loved the scientific aspects of the courses she took: "While the majority of my job is patient care and radiographic positioning, I like that I know about radiation and how the machines work; how x-rays are created, how they interact with body tissues, how the images are actually created, etc. I still tutor Medical Radiation Physics and enjoy it a lot."

According to Lynn, there is no typical day in X-Ray: "We have three main x-ray departments at UH (London Health Science Centre): General Radiology on the second floor, and Emergency Radiology in the ER, plus the Fowler-Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic at UWO. In General, we mostly image patients who are going to see surgeons in Orthopaedics, Neurology, Cardiology, Urology, or other specialties. We also have portable X-ray machines for inpatients who are unable to come down to the department for imaging. Sports Med is primarily Ortho, but we may also see some of the students who get referred over. Plus we see any Inpatients who may need follow-up imaging after procedures or when their condition changes. The x-ray area in the Emergency department pretty much just does whatever the ER docs need to see to understand what's going on. We don't see as much trauma as Victoria Hospital does, but I do have a lot of very interesting stories. We also run fluoroscopy (real-time, video x-ray) in Operating Rooms and procedure rooms. The vast majority of people who come through the healthcare system need imaging of some sort to support their diagnosis, treatment, or management of disease. We are 'open' 24/7/365, and provide a vital service."

 Although she always knew she wanted to be in the frontline of healthcare, MRT was not always where she imagined herself. She once considered Medical School, but realized that it might be too much. With her MRT position, Lynn finds a perfect balance; in which she can help others, and also see them.

 When asked what advice she would give those interested in the field, she had this to say: "Get out and work at a few different hospitals. I was hired where I trained, but one of the best things I did was take a contract position at another hospital. I learned different equipment, routines, and procedures, which only served to help me think "outside the box" on a regular basis. Also, shadow a MRT before you apply to the program. A lot of people have no idea what we really do. It is a very physically demanding job, and can also be psychologically and emotionally draining - especially when we are working in the morgue, OR, ICU, or ER.3.