X-Ray Technicians are also known as Radiologic Technologists or Radiographers. The essential idea is that these are the people who handle machines and materials with radioactive properties for their use in medicine. That description does not nearly do them justice though, so we begin a closer look into the responsibilities and importance of Radiographers.
The x-ray machine is one of the fundamental diagnostic tools of modern medicine. The term "x-ray" was coined by Wilhelm Rontgen, who called them such because they were an unknown kind of radiation. These rays can pass through most solids, but are blocked out by denser and thicker material. Their discovery by the humble Rontgen - who objected to these new rays being named after him - netted him the first Nobel Prize in Physics.
Various other scientists and inventors followed his investigations into this strange energy; famous scientists like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were among those that sought to learn how these rays could be utilized. The invention and refinement of imaging machines required the development of a new profession, whose members would be skilled at maintaining and manipulating the delicate machines while protecting themselves from the risks. Thus, the profession of radiological technologists was born.
Taking X-rays is not just exposing the patient to a lump of radioactive material to take an image. It is also about fine control to get the right quality of image. The image would not be very useful if it was overexposed or under-exposed, in much the same way as photographic film. Radiographers make sure that the resulting image is as good as possible by watching and adjusting radiation levels from the machine.
X-ray technicians are also responsible for developing the film. Like the situation in photography, a piece of film is not stable or useful without being "fixed". Developing the film sets the image and prevents further reactions, meaning that the image is preserved and will be viable even under bright light. Because the film needs to be mounted on a strong light source to be read and interpreted, this fixing process is very important.
Radiographers need to be able to work with people. They need to know how to position the patients, and how to interact with them. Interaction with a person under the stress of pain or illness is not easy, and getting them to follow procedure can be more than a little difficult. These are things that x-ray technicians deal with in their line of work.
Radiation is dangerous, and the job of Radiographers is not without risk. He or she must know how to shield themselves and the patients from excess radiation. After all, it just would not do to be made sicker by what is supposed to help you get better.
Lastly, the x-ray technician is the point man in identifying health problems based on the results. They are not qualified to interpret the findings, but they are more than knowledgeable enough to spot something off-kilter in the image. They can then prioritize the results with apparent problems for the radiologist to see first. With all these duties, we can see how much Radiographers contribute to the practice of medicine.
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