5 Tips for Taking Better X-Rays

5 Tips for Taking Better X-Rays

When I was a student, the most difficult x-rays for me to get right was the lateral knee. No matter what I did or who helped me, the radiograph would always turn out being either over rotated or just funky looking. Eventually, I figured out that by shooting the lateral knee cross-table, that I could get the condyles to perfectly superimpose almost everytime, thus producing a good lateral knee image!

Is there one single view or a series that has been your Achilles heel (pun intended)?

Through my time working in radiography departments, emergency rooms, ortho offices, and, as a mobile radiography tech I have picked up a few tips on what has helped me to get a good radiograph, most of the time.

TIP #1: Learn the Equipment

This sounds like a no-brainer, but not all equipment or imaging rooms for that matter are the same. I have worked at places where each room seemed to have a mind of their own. What I mean by this, is that what worked perfectly in on room would not always work in the other.

Often this was due to having different manufacturers equipment from room to room. For example, one room would have a state of the art Siemens DR equipment where another would have a CR based Philips system dating back to the civil war!

In order to best prepare yourself for success, you need to know the nuts and bolts of these rooms and how each manufacturers equipment works. Here are some examples.

  • Is there auto-collimation or do you have to do all collimation manually?
  • Are the techniques saved within the imaging system accurate?
  • Are there any weird bugs in the room that might cause the tube and IR to not line up correctly or drift?
  • Do you fully understand how to navigate within the imaging system’s computer interface?
  • Is one room better for table work where another has a better upright bucky?

Knowing these points, will not only dramatically increase your chances of success but will also save you from looking confused once you are in the room with the patient.

TIP #2: Learn from your co-workers

I know there can be a tendency within some radiography departments to want to be known as a “RADTECH SUPERSTAR!”

I would be lying if I said that I have not struggled with this in the past, but at the end of the day our job is to help people get better not get a big head because we can get the odontoid 90% of the time!

The way I learned how to get rockstar lateral knee x-rays was that I ate a little crow and asked a senior tech to show me his technique. By doing this, I was able to learn a few simple tips that would have otherwise taken me ten years and over 100 retakes to figure out. This tip was to always shoot the lateral knee cross-table and to have the IR parallel to the femur no the tube. WARNING this technique might not work for you since there are some nuances, but for me, it tends to get the job done.

Tip #3 Learn from bad images

Next time you over rotate an oblige lumber spine or clip the pubic symphysis on a KUB, instead of just repeating the image, take a second to either take a mental note or actually write down what you think caused the image to need repeating.

I am not saying that everytime you have to repeat an image it is your fault, all I am saying is that you can learn a lot from your mistakes.

For example, say your lateral wrist x-rays never seem to be 100% superimposed, and you just can’t seem to figure out if you are rotating too much internally or externally.

Instead of continually making the same mistake, you can purchase an imaging critique book or find some information onlinewhich will help show you what an over or under rotated lateral wrist x-ray looks like. From there, you can try to look at your old images and see if your lateral wrist x-rays look like they are typically over-rotated or under-rotated. Doing this is extremely useful for extremities and spines.

Tip #4: Do the same thing every time

There is a saying in the hospital world, “first time every time.” At my old job, we use to say this about the endoscopy department. It seemed like every case was their first. They would call us 5 seconds before the physics was ready for images (GERRRR!!) and they never knew any of our names (we had all been there for years), and the list goes on and on.

Don’t be the endo department of x-ray! What I mean by this is that you should try to do the same thing every time, IE having a system.

For example, when I am performing an exam, I will always do the same thing in the same order (if possible). This includes (before I get the patient), getting the room ready, pulling the patient’s information up on the computer, having the correct exposures set on the imaging system, having the cassette in the buck (if the room is not DR) having the tube set to correct SID, and so on. When the patient is in the room. I will always say the same thing and do the images in the same order (AP, OBL, LAT). Doing this helps me not only be efficient but also very consistent. After I started doing this, it was like my brain already knew what the next step was, so I could focus on if the anatomy was positioned correctly collimation, and imaging factors.

This was particularly helpful when doing mobile radiography since with this kind of work; you never know what situation you are going into.

Tip #5 Be patient

No one likes to hear this, but it takes a while before you get good at this.

I get it when you are a new tech you want to take over the world and have statues made of you to commemorate you as being the god amongst all other technologists!

Sorry, but it does not work that way. Taking great x-rays is an art, and you are going to have to take a lot of them before you get good at this.

With that said, I am 100% confident that if you follow the steps I have outlined, you will become a better technologist much faster then if you just did nothing.

I would love to continue this conversation.

What can you add to this blog post that may help others take better x-rays?

Written by Ari B – Founder of Radtechbootcamp.com

5 Tips for Taking Better X-Rays

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5 Tips to Crushing X-Ray Tech School!

5 Tips to Crushing X-Ray Tech School!

So you want to be an X-Ray Technologist? Well before you can shoot X-rays at people for a living, you first have to go to a certified x-ray tech school or radiography program, to use the common vernacular.

Most radiography programs fall in either of two categories. There are the two-year associate degree programs and the four-year bachelor’s degree program. There are also one-year programs where students can become what is know as a limited radiographer or LMRT.

Regardless of what program you decide to go to, one thing remains the same, X-RAY SCHOOL IS HARD!

Ok, there will always be those who breeze through school, but for the rest of us becoming an x-ray tech will most likely be the hardest thing you will ever do.

Since we here at radtechbootcamp.com are all about the students, we wanted to share a few tips that should help you increase your chances of CRUSHING RADIOGRAPHY SCHOOL!!

Tip One: Know what you are getting into.

I remember when I first decided to go to x-ray tech school, I really had no idea what to expect. I figured we would have to learn about bones and how the equipment worked, but I figured how hard could it really be? Boy was I wrong! It was not until the first day of class when I finally realized that I had severely underestimated the degree of work that I would have to do in order to not only pass my classes but also the ARRT Board Exam.

Here is a list of some things that you will have to learn while in x-ray tech school.

  • Learn every bone in the body and its bony landmarks (that’s 206 bones).
  • Learn how x-rays are produced and how they interact with matter
  • The inverse square law
  • Physics!
  • The components of the x-ray tube
  • How the x-ray circuit works
  • Radiation protection
  • Radiation biology
  • Math, math, and more math
  • digital radiography
  • Fluoroscopy (tube, table, and monitor)
  • How to position the patient for their exams (remember 206 bones)
  • Law and ethics related to healthcare
  • Drugs and their interactions
  • Patient’s vital signs
  • Pathology
  • X-ray image critique
  • and tons more

If this does not scare the bejesus out of you, then please continue reading.

Tip two -Lifestyle change.

Given the long list above, one needs to realize that becoming a radiography student will mean that for a period of time that you are going to have to have a significant lifestyle change.

Let me just be honest here. If you think you will be able to be a full-time radiography student while staying up late and partying 4 out of 7 nights a week, you are seriously mistaken.

This is medical school ya’ll! Ok, so it may not be MEDICAL SCHOOL, but for all intents and purposes, you are in a medical type school. This means that you are going to have to learn to say no to a lot of things.

Here is a list of some of those things are.

  • Watching Netflix until 3 am every night
  • Partying (especially on weeknights).
  • A social life
  • Free time
  • Video games
  • Spending all day watching sports
  • Did I mention partying
  • Vacations
  • Girl/Boyfriends
  • Working over 20 hours a week
  • Hobbies
  • Hanging out with friends
  • and just about everything  else you enjoyed doing before school

Yes, to CRUSH x-ray tech school you are going to have to be 100% focused on school. Now there will be some downtime here and there, but for the most part, you will be either reading, studying, or dreaming about the x-ray.

Tip three- Study habits

Given the degree of information, you are going to have to learn while in radiography school, implementing a good study habit can make the difference between becoming an x-ray tech or being an x-ray tech school drop out.

Again, if you think you will just be able to flip through a few flashcards before a test, you are mistaken. Yeah, that might help you pass a few tests but eventually, this will catch up to you, and it will not be good!

A study habit can be anything from highlighting your notes to creating flashcards, to finding a helpful website like quizlet or (shameless plug alert) radtechbootcamp.com. When I was in x-ray tech school, I was the flashcard king! I had stacks upon stacks of those wonderful white gems. I would take my stacks of flashcards everywhere, and whenever I had more than a few minutes of downtime, I would test myself over and over until I knew all the material forwards and backward.

Another excellent study habit is to get together with a group of classmates. This was always super helpful for me since often one of my classmates would have a good tip on how to remember a concept.

A final study habit tip is to befriend the smartest person in the class. Back in the day, they use to call this a “study buddy” but these days we just call it a study partner. Having a person like this is super helpful since they are more inclined to reply to your text message or Facebook message at 1:00 am the night before finals.

Tip four -Crap in Crap out

I talked about this in the “Steps to Crushing The ARRT Exam” blog, but it is worth mentioning again.

If you eat sh%*$y food, then you are not going to function at 100%!

This is not my opinion, there is HARD evidence to support the crap in crap out hypothesis. When you eat foods that have been fried, heavily processed, or contains copious amounts of sugar, you not only deplete your body of nutrients but you also cause your brain to become inflamed. When your brain becomes inflamed, it becomes significantly harder to focus and memorize material.

The x-ray tech school I attended had a Taco Bell seriously right next to it. It was all I could do not to go there every stinking day (Taco Bell, HELLO! ). The few times I did go there for lunch, I would pay the price, total brain fog.

Here is a link on  foods that help your brain – https://draxe.com/15-brain-foods-to-boost-focus-and-memory/

On a side note, consistent exercise is SUPER good for both your brain and memory.

Here is a link explaining this in more depth. –http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Tip 5 – You have to be passionate

I saved the best tip for last.

Out of all the tips mentioned, if you are not passionate about helping people, then you will not make it through x-ray school, guaranteed.

To be completely honest, there are a ton more ways to make a better living then becoming an X-ray tech. BUT, there are few jobs as rewarding and downright awesome as being an X-ray tech. What other career do you start your day helping surgeons operate in the OR, then go to the depart of fluoro, and then finish out the day in the ED? Pretty much none.

Besides this, we get to help save people’s lives every day!

Oh, you don’t think so? Try diagnosing pneumothorax without a chest x-ray or doing an open reduction (ORIF) surgical case without a C-Arm. Even if you work in a doctors office or do mobile radiography, you are still a fundamental step in proving what is knows as continuity of care. If that does not get your passion juices flowing, then I do not think anything will!

When the going gets tuff and it will, passion for our profession will be the only thing that is going to get you to write that 10-page paper and show up to clinicals after a bad day.

X-ray tech school and all the drama associated with it is just too hard. You have to have something more than just wanting a “good job.” If you are not passionate about helping people, then I strongly suggest you think of another career path.

To sum up, radiography school is going to kick your butt so prepare to have your life changes, find some good study habits, start eating healthy, and get passionate!

By Ari Blum – founder Clover Learning

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5 TIPS FOR CRUSHING X-RAY Tech CLINICALS (Must Read) !

5 TIPS FOR CRUSHING X-RAY Tech CLINICALS (Must Read) !

5 TIPS FOR CRUSHING X-RAY TECH  CLINICALS!

So you think your X-Ray tech school classes are hard? Oh, dear friend… you have no idea!

Depending on the X-Ray school program you go into, you will be going to either hospitals, doctor’s offices, or medical clinics in order to gain “real-world” experience in becoming an X-Ray tech.

The most common term used to describe this portion of radiography school is “clinicals” or “clinical.” There might be other names for this, but for the purposes of this blog, we will just stick with clinicals.

My longest lasting x-ray tech job was working at one of the largest and busiest hospitals in my state. Because of this, we were always up to our ears in x-ray tech students (sometimes 10 at once). In my short illustrious career as an X-ray tech, I have had the good fortune of working with many, many x-ray tech students. Some were amazing, and some… well we will get to that.

Before I start,  just want to say that, I HAVE BEEN WHERE YOU ARE, and I sincerely want you to not just “get through”X-Ray school clinicals, but I also want you to CRUSH them!

 

TIP 1: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO:

This might sound like a no-brainer, but seriously, you need to take some time to get mentally prepared to not only be around “real patients” but also real working x-ray techs. At radiography school, it’s all sunshine and rainbows. You get to practice positioning on your classmates, share funny YouTube videos, and avoid the occasional code brown (only hospital techs will get this joke).

Starting clinicals for the first time is kind of like getting pulled from the womb in that you are now being exposed to an entirely new world. No one is saying that you have to be awesome your first day, but there is no reason why you should start clinicals completely clueless either.

Once you find out where your clinical location is, I would recommend you driving there a day or two before your first day. It is also a really good idea to actually go into the facility and find the location where you will need to check-in first thing in the morning. By doing this, you will be able to know exactly how much time is needed in order to get from your home to the time clock. Most radiography clinical instructors are mean bitter people (I’m joking), so they will have ZERO cares about your excuses of why you were late on your first day.

I would also recommend talking to your upper classmates in order to get the inside information on that particular clinical site. For example, almost every clinical site has that one x-ray tech that for whatever reason doesn’t like students. It is always a good idea to find out beforehand who that person is so you can make sure to keep your distance.

NOTE – If you are a working technologist and you can’t think of who this person is at your facility. Well, chances are it might be you!

TIP 2: NO ONE IS EXPECTING YOU TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING:

I can pretty much assure you that you are not going to be put in the Emergency Room on your first day of X-Ray school clinicals and told to, “get to work”. Trust me, all the working x-ray techs at your clinical location understand that you are new and none of them are expecting you to know what the heck you are doing, especially on your first day. In fact, it might even take a good couple of week before you even shoot your first real x-ray. This x-ray student limbo can get pretty discouraging, but please don’t be. There will be plenty of time to learn, and there is never a shortage of patients to x-ray.

This x-ray limbo can get pretty discouraging, but please don’t be. There will be plenty of time to learn how to perform x-ray exams, and there is never a shortage of patients who need x-rays.

 

TIP 3: FIND AN X-RAY TECH SENSEI:

One of the best advice I can give to new x-ray tech students is to find a Jedi knight rad tech and follow them (if they will let you) everywhere they go.

When I was doing my Trauma rotation at a level one hospital, I found one rad tech who had been shooting x-ray for about as long as I had been alive, I took to him like white on rice and never regretted it for a second! Yes, he was not always the easiest person to get along with, but because of him, I can shoot a lateral cross-table knee like no one’s business!

 

TIP 4: BE THE X-RAY TECHS BEST FRIEND:

Before I go on any further, I am not saying you need to be “best friends” with all the working x-ray techs. I am simply saying that you should always try to be as helpful as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be the janitor or anything like that, but you should always try to be at least one step ahead of the rad tech you are following. This means ALWAYS being ready to hand them an extra pillow for the patient, offering to either get the patient or take them back to the waiting room or ED room,  changing linens, and/or anything else that will make the tech say, ” that student is a hard worker!” True story, I was offered a job while I was a student solely for doing the things I just mentioned.

TIP 5: CLINICALS = JOB INTERVIEW

I saved the best and most important tip for last!

I have seen so many students make this mistake and pay dearly for it.

Clinicals is not the time to:

  • catch up on studying
  • make new friends
  • write papers
  • Look at Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
  • catch up on sleep
  • hold up a wall
  • talk to other students

X-Ray school clinicals is for you to both learn how to be an x-ray tech as well ad lay the group work for you to get an X-ray tech job!

Let me tell you a little secret. When you get done with school and start applying for jobs, the hiring manager is going to go to all the x-ray techs within the department and ask what they thought about you. In most cases, the feedback they get from these techs will be the deciding factor on whether you get an interview or not.

Unfortunately, no one cares about your second job, how tired/stressed out you are, or why you chronically came in late or missed days. What they care about is if you are a hard worker and are dependable.

Oh, another thing, the x-ray tech community is very small and tight-knit, so if you are planning at burning a bridge at one clinical site, I assure you it is going to get around.

The best advice I can give any x-ray tech student is to bring your A-game every day of x-ray school clinicals! Now everyone is entitled to have an off day here or there, but I can assure you that if you come to X-Ray tech school clinicals every day with a positive attitude and a willingness to both learn and help you will at least get put on the list of potential applicants when a new position becomes open.

I sincerely hope this post helps you and feel free to share with your fellow classmates or fellow x-ray techs.

Ari Blum Founder: Clover Learning

5 Tips for Taking Better X-Rays

When I was a student, the most difficult x-rays for me to get right was the lateral knee. No matter what I did or who helped me, the radiograph would always turn out being either over rotated or just funky looking. Eventually, I figured out that by shooting the...

5 Tips to Crushing X-Ray Tech School!

So you want to be an X-Ray Technologist? Well before you can shoot X-rays at people for a living, you first have to go to a certified x-ray tech school or radiography program, to use the common vernacular. Most radiography programs fall in either of two categories....

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