Ethics and Professionalism in Radiologic Technology


Ethics and Professionalism in Radiologic Technology

Initial considerations

By now you have realized that in addition to developing technical knowledge and skills, the foundation of radiologic technology encompasses standards of conduct and ideals essential to meeting both the emotional and physical needs of patients.

Radiologic technology encompasses a variety of specialties and plays an invaluable role in the practice of medicine. This service department provides vital information about the structure and function—both normal and abnormal—of the human body, and this information enables physicians to make accurate diagnoses to pursue care and treatment. Practitioners of this art and science play a key role in the total spectrum of health care services.

Those of you entering radiologic or other imaging technologies directly from high school may find that your age (youth) presents some problems. Typically, the general public questions the character and competence of anyone to whom they must entrust their care and treatment. With each new patient, your abilities and purposes may be on trial simply because of your age. A majority of patients may be senior citizens. To understand their opinions and standards, you must realize that, when they were young people, the people, experiences, and events of several decades ago influenced them. External influences temper attitudes from generation to generation. The degree of social freedom has changed considerably over the past few decades, and older generations may have difficulty believing that today’s youth can measure up to the ethical and moral standards associated with the medical professions over the years. Your work and your conduct will prove them right or wrong.

Individuals who are entering this profession must ask themselves questions such as “What do I expect from this field as a professional career?” and “What do I have to contribute?” to conduct a thorough self-analysis. Diagnostic imaging, whatever the chosen modality, is a service profession. Do you have a service-oriented personality? Will you be able to work with people who may be experiencing some of the worst situations in their lives, and can you do so with empathy? You need to consider the extremes that can occur. Unfortunately, through television and the many programs associated with medicine, dramatic license has taken over, and reality becomes overshadowed and somewhat glamorized. If you are expecting glamour and high drama, you may need to reconsider. The work will be demanding both physically and emotionally, and it entails a serious responsibility. If you are choosing correctly, the work will be immensely rewarding through the many people that you will help during their pain and illness.

Professional goals

In establishing a worthwhile goal, you must first view your chosen profession as more than a job. You should not pursue a simple goal of just passing a series of examinations and eventually becoming certified by the Registry or just earning a degree; you should set a goal that will establish you as a first-rate professional. Imaging technology does not need dropouts or those unable to cope with the advances in the profession. What caliber of radiologic technologist would you prefer to care for you or your family? Certainly you would want the services of a professional radiologic technologist—a combination of superior technical knowledge and skills applied in an understanding, caring, and compassionate manner—who works in harmony and cooperation with peers, physicians, radiologists, and all other hospital personnel.

Suppose that you, like many others, plan to use radiologic technology as a stepping-stone in your long-range career plans to achieve some higher vocational goal. Does this mean that you need not apply yourself with as much dedication and effort as if radiologic technology were your ultimate professional goal? Definitely not. The needs are still the same. Whether you plan to pursue this profession for a temporary or indefinite length of time, respect it and respect yourself by excelling at all times.

Interpersonal relationships

Should you enter the field of radiologic technology, you will encounter many individuals who will influence your education and training. First are the didactic and clinical instructors who are knowledgeable and skilled professionals; they are dedicated to assisting and guiding you to become a first-rate radiologic technologist, but the rest is up to you. The success of your learning experience depends primarily on your own incentive, dedication, and personal application.

As you contemplate entering this profession, you need to consider both your short-term and long-term plans. Medical imaging has and will continue to develop very rapidly in its complexity. Are you interested in staying with and developing your knowledge and skills in keeping up with these changes to excel in this field? The goal of health care does not change except to become more efficient in its delivery and more successful in diagnosing and providing treatment. If this excellence in knowledge and skill is accompanied by an underlying desire to provide care and empathy for patients, the goal of service is being well served. Consider whether this is the reason that a career in medical imaging appeals to you.

If you are viewing this profession as a short-term goal, you may be shortchanging both yourself and the field. You may limit yourself in the heights that you could achieve and what you would contribute to the field. If you are using this field as a stepping-stone to a more advanced medical profession, you must apply yourself to learn everything you can in your academic and clinical experience to serve as a basis. However, those of us who have spent many decades as technologists and have grown with the field would hope that your plans and sense of dedication would become long range, that you would strive to excel beyond the basic requirements, and that you would become one of the building blocks of this profession.

You need to understand your instructors and their motivations. They may seem regimented in committing you to unmerciful schedules of study and practice, but they, too, have a goal to achieve. Within the 2 or 4 years that seem so long to you, they must teach you a large body of knowledge and assist you in developing your skills simply to meet the minimum standards. They must also try to motivate you to take part in additional studies, research, writing, and practice on your own. Their goal is to have you develop into a professional radiologic technologist; thus your association with your instructors should be one of mutual understanding and cooperative efforts in developing your professional education and training. You may find some comfort in knowing that your instructors—registered technologists, physicians, and radiologists—are all caught up in a process similar to yours; that is, they are constantly striving to keep abreast of continual advances in the field of medicine and related health services. All of these professional individuals represent your sources of information and learning. Take advantage of their assistance at every available opportunity.

Attending physicians and radiologists you encounter may appear to be distant, preoccupied, and generally indifferent to your presence in the department. You will find some to be exactly that; others will be a tremendous source of information and assistance with a friendly interest in your progress (Fig. 11-1). Unfortunately, the wide gap between professional standings of the medical and technical fields continues; however, this gap can be bridged as each succeeding generation of radiologic technologists exhibits increasingly higher levels of knowledge, skill, and personal professionalism. Radiologic technologists need to assert themselves as essential members of the total health service team.

Success in the health care industry and in the treatment of patients depends not only on the physicians but also on the total team effort of health care professionals; this includes radiologic technologists, other imaging specialists, and nurses to provide the total information needed for a diagnosis and proper course of treatment for the patient. In the past, physicians were at the top of the pyramid. Although the physician still makes the final decision about the course of treatment, this determination is based on findings of the associated professions working as a team. Always keep in mind that your work as an imaging professional makes an important contribution to the team effort; you can take pride in carrying out such a serious responsibility. Without imaging technology services, diagnoses and effective patient care and treatment would be extremely difficult and, in many instances, impossible.

Mar 2, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL RADIOLOGY | Comments Off on Ethics and Professionalism in Radiologic Technology

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