MEDICAL RADIATION TECHNOLOGIST
MASTER CORPORAL JENNIFER ANDERSON: I am Master Corporal Jennifer Anderson from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a Medical Radiation Technologist at Edmonton Garrison.
MASTER CORPORAL HELEN MERCIER: And I’m Master Corporal Helen Mercier from Tramping Lake, Saskatchewan, I’m a Medical Radiation Technologist at CFB Halifax.
ANDERSON: As part of the Canadian Forces Health Services team, Medical Radiation Technologists work at some of Canada’s most modern medical imaging facilities… in x-ray suites aboard our Navy supply ships… and in field hospitals on deployments and humanitarian missions around the world.
MERCIER: Being a Medical Radiation Technologist or M Rad Tech, is an incredibly challenging combination of technology, travel, and deployment.
MERCIER: Wherever we go, we serve our soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel with state-of-the-art equipment. In the Forces – and especially in field trauma settings – you’re interacting one-on-one with the doctors, and you really feel like you’re an important part of the team.
MERCIER: It’s really rewarding, you know that you’re valued as a member of the team, because they understand that you went to school and you trained in this field, so you have comprehensive understanding in a fast ultrasound. They know that you know what you’re looking for and you can get there, sometimes faster than they can.
ANDERSON: At home in our base clinics, our work is comparable to what you would do at any civilian hospital in Canada: digital radiography, CT scanning and ultrasound. But we’re always ready to deploy on operations at any moment.
ANDERSON: When you’re overseas, for example, you deal with a lot of traumatic injuries, and it is a very busy environment over there. You’re dealing with general x-ray, operating room, portable x-ray as well as computed tomography.
ANDERSON: During the initial deployment in Afghanistan, we were using tele-radiography to get x-rays back to radiologists in Canada by satellite, and those results were sent back to the doctors in the trauma suite in Kandahar.
MERCIER: Anyone who’s a medical worker understands that when someone’s hurt, the first hour’s golden. You are always on call and on duty in those situations. Your reward is to see that person make it off your table and into the OR in an incredible amount of time that makes them have that much better of a chance for survival and evac back to North America. If you like a challenge and you enjoy seeing different things, travelling and working with a variety of people, it is a rewarding career.
MERCIER: And if a part-time job is all you’re looking for, there’s another great way to serve Canada and contribute to the mission of the Forces as an M Rad Tech with the Health Services Reserves.
MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job
ANDERSON: Greatest part of the job is all of the opportunities that are out there. When in Afghanistan, I was involved in patient care from the time they entered the building to the time they left: with their initial x-rays, their initial CT, heading into the OR if they needed an operation, any of their after-operation x-rays as well. And I noticed even when I came home, there was patients that I recognised from Afghanistan. It was kinda great to be able to see their continued care and see how well they’re doing.
MERCIER: A tour like Haiti is exactly why people like me get hooked. It was a true humanitarian mission. We had one patient that was amazing. He came to us injured and by the time he left, he had a whole new life ahead of him, and his mother – she did nothing but cry her last day there. She was so thankful and it ended up everyone else cried because she was crying.
MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training
ANDERSON: To qualify as a Medical Radiation Technologist in the Canadian Forces, you’ll need to be a certified technologist in radiography, with a current license as a radiographer from the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists or its Quebec equivalent.
ANDERSON: If you’re just starting to think about a career in this field, or if you’re currently enrolled in a Medical Radiation Technology program at an accredited Canadian college, you might be eligible for a program called the Subsidized Education Plan, where the Forces will pay for your education, in exchange for a period of mandatory service once you graduate.
MERCIER: Members of the Health Services team are soldiers first, just like everyone else in the Forces. So you’ll begin your military service with Basic Training in Saint-Jean, Quebec.
MERCIER: When you complete your basic training, you’ll undertake a one-year preceptorship, under the supervision of more senior technologists.
MODULE 4 – Your First Posting
MERCIER: Your first posting will be at a Canadian Forces medical clinic. Here at home, Medical Radiation Technologists usually work a normal Monday to Friday schedule.
MERCIER: Typical day in this job: you could start your day working at the front desk, being called into ultrasound, covering x-ray on their breaks, the OR suddenly needing you because they have a surgery that they need help on. So you could be called up there.
ANDERSON: Throughout your military career, you’ll have the opportunity to take courses in advanced specialties, including computerized tomography and diagnostic ultrasound.
ANDERSON: As a civilian, you work as a medial radiation technologist – you go to work, you do your job, and you go home. And I wanted a lot more opportunity to travel, to expand my education, to become a leader, to advance as far as I can in the Canadian Forces.
MODULE 5 - Testimonials
MERCIER: I signed up for, at any moment, like that Haiti mission – I can go home, thinking I will be back at work on Monday, and having a phone call saying “You’re getting on a plane because someone needs you somewhere”.
ANDERSON: My proudest moment has probably been my deployment to Afghanistan. It was an incredible feeling, an incredible experience. Every day, every moment I was just incredibly happy with being able to do the job that I did.
MERCIER: In the short time that I’ve been in, I’ve gone to Bermuda, I’ve gone to Florida, New York, Scotland – I’ve been all over the world.