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A Day in the Life of an MRI Technician

Apr 08, 2010

When the MRI technician pulls into the hospital’s parking lot, he already knows a busy day awaits him. When he reaches his department, he begins to go over the schedule for the morning. Almost completely booked up, just like nearly every day lately. There had been extra help lately in the department, as well as radiography students from the hospital’s diploma program. His students for the day were just arriving, eagerly waiting to help out with the day's work.  

The first patients were arriving in the imaging department's waiting room, waiting for their scheduled diagnostic studies to be completed.  The students head to the waiting room to bring the first patient for his exam.  The student takes the patient into a private area to change out of his street clothes and into a patient gown.  The student also cautions the patient to remove everything metal from his body, including any jewelry he might be wearing. 

The technician and the students enter the procedure room and carefully position the patient on the MRI table for an imaging study of his lumbar spine, or lower back.  The patient states that he has had back pain for a number of years and his orthopedic surgeon recommend he have an MRI in order to best decide what treatment option to choose. 

"I'm a little nervous about this test," he says to one of the students, "I don't know what to expect.  My doctor told me about it, but I'm not sure exactly what to expect from an MRI."

The student is happy to explain the test to the patient.  He tells the man that he will be placed on a table inside the MRI machine.  He will be enclosed, but there will be a microphone placed near him, so he can communicate with the MRI technician.  The machine will make a whirring noise and he will have to stay still in order to obtain the best images.  The radiologist will be able to tell from the images healthy tissue and bone, from those that are degenerated or unhealthy.  The students and the technicians go through the pre procedure checklist to ensure that the patient does not have any contraindications to the procedure. 

About half an hour later, the procedure is finished.  The students assist the patient down from the table.  "Thank you," the patient said. "That wasn't so bad at all."

The department's phone rings.  It’s the emergency room department doctor.  "I need a stat MRI of my patient's brain.  He's having facial droop and right sided weakness.  We need to do this quickly so I can administer blood thinning medications and help him if he is indeed having a stroke.  His symptoms started twenty minutes ago."

Moments later, the patient is rushed into the department.  The students evaluate his chart while the MRI technician goes over the patient's pre procedure checklist with the patient's wife.  The patient is correctly identified by his wrist band and the procedure begins.  The results are sent to the radiologist who calls the emergency room doctor to confirm that the patient is having a stroke caused by a blood clot that is affecting part of his brain.  He is rushed back to the emergency room again where special blood thinning medicine is carefully administered.   Within the hour his symptoms have all but disappeared.  He is admitted to the hospital for further treatment. 

Four days later, he is discharged home.  On his way out, he stops by the imaging department.  "I'm glad to see that you recovered so well, sir." The MRI tech says when he recognizes the man that is recovering from his stroke. 

"I'm glad too.  Thanks to you and your students' quick work, I was able to get the right medication in a timely manner.  My neurologist says that if I’d waited much longer I could have been in a wheelchair forever. Or I could even be dead!"

The MRI tech was glad he could help.  "All in a day's work," he thought to himself as he watched the patient and his wife leave.

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Skills for an MRI Technician
Jan 28, 2011

If you enjoy the technical aspects of anatomy and medicine, training to be an MRI tech might be a good choice for you.

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