Radiologist technicians at work

Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, examine X-rays at the clinic Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, examine X-rays at the clinic Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. After the technicians review the X-rays for accuracy, they send the images to the radiologists at the Air Force Academy for further examination. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Pictured is a radiopaque marker at the radiology clinic Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Pictured is a radiopaque marker at the radiology clinic Nov. 6, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Radiopaque markers are used to show which part of the body is scanned. The marker also serves a legal purpose to verify the technician’s analysis of the scan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- For total patient wellness, doctors rely on no only their own expertise, but also other clinical departments to understand each patient's needs. When it comes to diagnostic imaging, doctors seek out radiology specialists.

Senior Airmen Joseph Broyles and Sarai Eastman, 341st Medical Group diagnostic imaging technologists, detect medical issues using radiology.

"Here at Malmstrom, radiology is X-ray and MRI," said Broyles. "When we provide patient images, we provide an important piece of the puzzle so people and their doctors can make the best decisions for their health."

"Our work is not just pushing a button," said Eastman. "A lot of the job is understanding the techonology. We have to know body positioning, what we are looking at and how to set the amount of radiation correctly."

At the radiology office at Malmstrom, a patient completes initial paperwork and the technician reviews to determine the imagine.

While preparing the patient for their scan, technicians have a checklist to ensure the scan is done in a proper and safe manner.

The technician aims to achieve the best scan while using as little radiation as possible to prevent too much radiation from entering the patient's body, said Broyles.

After the image is taken, it's sent to radiologists at the Air Force Academy where they will read the images for findings. Once the technician receives the radiologist's findings, they will follow up with the patient to determine further steps.

"One of our main roles in our mission is maintaining the health and wellness of our Air Force family," said Broyles.

"Every X-ray technician uses the phrase 'as low as reasonably achievable' according to time, distance and shielding," said Broyles.

Time refers to exposing the patient to the radiation for the lowest amount of time possible. Distance refers to having the X-ray tube the proper distance from the scanned body part. And shielding, which is the protection of the body using garments infused with lead, is used.

Technological advances to radiological equipment has made Broyles' and Eastman's jobs easier.

"Time management is essential in our career field. The progression of X-ray equipment has definitely helped emergency medicine and the flow of servicing patients go more smooth and fast," said Broyles.

With improvements to radiology equipment, the use of it is indispensable to modern medicine.

Radiology is used to detect cancer early or discover a fracture and find more serious ailments.

Diagnostic imaging equipment is at the forefront of preventing and detecting medical concerns, said Broyles.

"With our technology we can discover there is a lot more than meets the eye," he said. "Most of the time, we don't know what's going on inside our body. Radiology gives doctors more tools to keep people healthy."

While the job challenges of being in the medical field can sometimes be difficult, the rewards of the job make all the difference, said Eastman and Broyles.

"I enjoy working hand-in-hand with other healthcare providers to support our patients," said Eastman. "Just being able to help the patients and figure out what's hurting them makes our job fulfilling."

Not only are diagnostic imaging technologists trained to perform and analyze scans, but also they are trained for other clinical roles.

"We don't only perform X-rays," said Eastman. "We can also respond to medical emergencies."

The week of Nov. 4-10, people across the country observed National Radiologic Technology Week. During this time, the vital contributions diagnostic imagining technologists provide to the medical field are recognized and celebrated.

The 2018 theme was "Powerful Together." To Broyles and Eastman, this phrase has strong meaning for their role in the mission.

"Powerful together means teamwork," said Eastman. "It's not just about coming and getting an X-ray. We're involved with the entire clinic. We work hand-in-hand with everyone involved in a patient's medical care."

Above all else, the Airmen working in radiology want their patients to know they will be taken care of and receive the best treatment possible.

"When a patient comes in, I treat them is as if they're my family," said Broyles. "If a patient comes in upset or hurt, I do everything I can to say, 'Hey, it's alright. You're here in our care now, let us do what we do best and get you taken care of and help you with your pain.'"
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