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Your Future in Medical Radiography Technology Program – An In-Depth Interview with our Program Chair

By July 12, 2023January 22nd, 2024No Comments
Medical Radiography Technology

Medical radiography technology (MRT) is a field with near-limitless potential for students looking for an in-demand and rewarding career. Medical radiography is imaging technology used to diagnose various ailments and is the art and science of correctly positioning the patient and X-ray equipment to produce and record images for visualizing the extent of disease or injury. With medical imaging backlogs since before COVID, there is a critical and immediate need for MRT professionals. While this is of grave concern to patients, it provides a significant opportunity for those students with a passion and interest in working as a healthcare professional in the field of medical imaging.

As you explore where you will apply your talents to achieve your career goals, the MRT program is a focus worth putting in the mix. We had the distinct opportunity to interview Anderson College’s Program Chair, Francine Anselmo, who has a 40-year track record for success in this specialized healthcare field. Her address of program details, course topics, the skills and knowledge students will acquire and the practical training and incredible clinical institutions supporting this program, will give you all the insights you need to know to make an informed decision.

Let’s dive right in and introduce Anderson College’s MRT Program Chair, Francine Anselmo …

Francine’s background and incredible experience in the field.

“I have well over 40 years of extensive experience in medical imaging. I could never have imagined the vast opportunities ahead of me when I first started working as a medical imaging technologist at clinical practice (within hospitals and clinics in British Columbia). Over the decades, I have had the privilege to meet many patients and their families. I’ve worked, and continue to work, with an assortment of medical imaging equipment. We work with a lot of technology, and we provide diagnostic services to patients. For me personally, using sophisticated state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment and providing patient-centered care is what makes the MRT profession the most rewarding.

An overview of Anderson College’s MRT program and the main objectives and outcomes that students can expect.

“Our Medical Radiography Technology program is 78 weeks in duration and includes 1050 hours of clinical placement; we train students to become medical imaging technologists. We educate them in the areas of patient care, radiation safety, computerized imaging techniques, and anatomy and pathology, to name a few. The program is designed to ensure our graduates are responsible for the safe and competent operation of a wide range of medical imaging equipment, the production of digital images, the use of accessory medical equipment, and also the care, safety and management of the patient.

“We use a lot of technology at clinical practice and Anderson College has a unique delivery system for the MRT program. It is an immersion program where students start their clinical practice rotation early on in their first semester. Immersion and clinical placement will provide students with hands-on training at their hospital site. Courses are taken one at a time and the learning is continued in clinical practice. Students will experience a supportive environment. Our faculty work alongside clinical partners to ensure student success, and students can expect to receive an outstanding education and training in British Columbia’s major hospitals and associated medical imaging facilities. A wonderful career awaits them after graduation. We are experiencing an unprecedented high demand for medical imaging technologists so it’s a great time to start your training.

Types of courses and topics covered in the curriculum, and some of the knowledge and skills students will acquire.

“Students are going to learn what we call the art and science of medical imaging. This means using sophisticated medical imaging equipment used to diagnose various conditions, like diseases or fractures (broken bones). Students will gain skills and knowledge for positioning patients and using an assortment of medical imaging equipment to produce X-ray images. This includes the use of computed tomography (also known as CT), interventional radiology (IR), bone densitometry, and mammography or breast imaging. And that’s just a small example among other modalities. The courses include learning anatomy, pathology, medical imaging equipment, medical terminology, radiographic technique, patient care, radiation protection, CT, and fluoroscopy, which is live continuous radiation to see a body system function in real time. There are also courses that include specialized imaging, infection prevention and control, quality assurance and control, and also three clinical placements with our partner hospitals. Courses are delivered in quite a unique way. They’re delivered one at a time, modular, to allow students to learn, reflect and reinforce their academic course learning with hands-on training at their clinical placement.

“Anderson College has a campus in Surrey, British Columbia, a beautiful area of the province. We will meet in the classroom, lab, online and at clinical practice. So, there’s flexibility in the learning. We have labs where we will learn, and practice, and students will begin learning with our clinical partners. These are the hospitals where students will be immersed in the medical imaging department and other hospital areas. Students will work in a safe environment and have supervised access to a vast array of sophisticated medical imaging equipment. Students will be cared for by Anderson faculty and clinical partners, with the majority of the hands-on component practiced in the hospitals and simulation labs, to name a few of the opportunities provided. Students will start learning at clinical practice early on in the MRT program allowing them to build knowledge and gain confidence.”

So, to clarify, all the labs/clinical immersion will be done at the hospital or other health facilities?

“Yes. While we do conduct some practical, hands-on training in our campus classroom and lab, the clinical portion of the program will happen at the hospital. Of course, we would not be able to energize the beam and produce X-rays in our Anderson lab. We have very strict regulations and rules for safety in place. So, the majority of the labs, for example when we’re using ionizing radiation and energizing the beam to produce X-rays, will be in a hospital setting. We also have access to simulation labs. Vancouver General Hospital has a phenomenal simulation environment. This is where many healthcare workers experience simulation training before they’re out on the floor working with patients.”

Who can take this program? Do students need any particular skills or past experience in healthcare to join the program?

“I encourage students to have a look at Anderson’s website for detailed information. Students have to meet a minimum requirement for enrollment, and they have to be 19 years of age or older at the time of the program start. Prospective students are most welcome to contact us directly so we can answer their specific questions about the program. Maybe they might have questions about hospital clinical skills, their past experience, and see if the program is the right fit.

“For me personally, when I started the MRT program decades ago, I knew about X-rays because I took my parents to the hospital and saw what happens in medical imaging departments and other areas of the hospital where patients were X-rayed. So that wasn’t much ‘experience’, just taking mom and dad to the hospital. I looked at the equipment, and what they were doing, and it was just amazing to me. For myself, I enjoy using medical imaging equipment. It is exceptional. And I have patients to X-ray, how phenomenal is that? We use a significant amount of technology, but we also focus on the patient, providing patient-centered care, our very best care, and that’s very important in our profession. MRTs are an essential part of a patient’s healthcare journey. We get to meet many patients and their families. I’ve met so many; I’ve even been in a grocery store where a patient said, “Hi” to me. And then, “Oh you took my X-rays.” And suddenly he’s giving me advice on the type of fruits and vegetables I should be buying. It’s been quite wonderful.”

Do MRTs play a significant role in reassuring patients, making them feel more comfortable, answering their questions or concerns?

“Oh yes, absolutely. We not only provide excellence in imaging them, but we also take care of them. Patients are with us for a certain amount of time when they’re getting their diagnostic procedure, their X-rays. And we, as MRTs, make them feel at ease; we answer their questions. I always ask my patients, “Do you have any questions for me? Is there something that I can answer?” They’ll often have a family member with them. I try to make sure that the patient is comfortable, and the family members are comfortable, ensuring that I make them feel like they’re a little bit at home instead of a hospital with a lot of machines.”

Can you tell us more about the clinical placement they have to complete? Where do they do it and how is it helpful?

“We have a unique opportunity; our students start early on in the program at clinical practice. We have access to hospital sites, and these are the major trauma centres in British Columbia, and also their affiliated medical imaging sites. This ensures students have a sampling of various diagnostic procedures that are performed on patients. Students will complete three clinical placements. The hospital sites offer a variety of specialty healthcare services and students will receive their hospital experience and training in their chosen profession from clinical experts. These experts are MRTs, certified and experienced medical imaging technologists, as are our Anderson instructors. Our Anderson faculty will ensure that students are supported and educated effectively. Our various hospital partners will provide practical training in partnership with Anderson College, and we have secured clinical placements for our students.”

Several institutions such as: Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Fraser Health (FH), Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and Providence Health Care (PHC) support the program. Could you give us more insight?

“The Medical Radiography Technology (MRT) program is strongly supported by our hospital partners: Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Provincial Health Services Authority, and Providence Health Care. The collaboration between these hospitals and Anderson College is instrumental in creating a unique and high-quality educational experience for our students. Anderson College is proud to deliver the MRT program, showcasing the substantial support provided by our hospital partners.”

The program has been “Registered” for accreditation status with Accreditation Canada/EQual™. Can you tell us more about the accreditation process and its benefits?

“What I can say is that the accreditation process is absolutely rigorous. It’s robust and it’s to ensure excellence in the delivery of educational programs to students. Accreditation requirements are extensive and include a subject matter expert who reviews the program onsite. They look at the facilities, they interview, and it’s quite a lengthy involved process. Accreditation requires institutions to maintain high standards and it helps build trust. It means that students can expect to receive a high-quality education. There are many benefits for accreditation. For example, accreditation demonstrates to learners that the program has achieved excellence in standing, best practices are in place and all requirements have been met. And this isn’t a one-time deal. Accreditation is ongoing. So, when a program is accredited, it is for a specific timeframe. There’s a review at the end of that time and then they must seek accreditation again, consistently keeping up with industry developments and evolving standards. Anderson’s MRT program has not received accreditation as of yet, it has been “Registered” at this point. It will help students to know, however, that Anderson College has vast experience in preparing leading-edge programs and applying for accreditation status. Currently, Anderson College has eight accredited programs by various governing bodies. They know precisely how important it is to develop programs utilizing best practices, holding them to the highest standard, giving graduates the competitive edge as they seek employment in their respective fields.”

Career opportunities and job prospects for MRT graduates – in demand.

“Throughout my career, I could have never imagined it for myself, career opportunities that were just so wonderful. And I still enjoy working decades later; I still enjoy being a medical imaging technologist. We are in great demand. I have never seen it like this. Work opportunities exist in hospitals and clinics, educational institutions, clinical research, labs, management and leadership. There are MRTs who really enjoy the leadership aspect, and manage the Medical Imaging department, and they’re outstanding in their management abilities. And there’s also opportunity in government and regulatory authorities. You can work for medical imaging companies, private medical imaging centres, private surgical facilities, and also in sales and marketing. This is an excellent time to start your career in medical imaging.”

Can MRTs work in different provinces within Canada?

“Yes, students in the MRT program write their national exams with the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), and once they pass the national certification exam with the CAMRT, they can work anywhere across Canada. Our Canadian credential is highly regarded.”

Can you tell me more about the CAMRT and the national exam?

“Once our MRT program is accredited, upon graduation students will have received an education of the highest standard, engaged in clinical work at outstanding training facilities, and will also be eligible to write their Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists, CAMRT, national exam. Our MRT program prepares students to write the CAMRT exam. The exam encompasses their didactic or academic learning, and clinical training. We prepare students by review and practice, so that they feel confident to write their national exam. Upon passing, students can register with the CAMRT and have their Canadian certification and title behind their name. This means, when they apply for whatever wonderful career, they’ve set their sights on, they’ll have a solid and stellar Canadian credential behind their name.”

Lastly, what advice would you give to prospective students who are considering the MRT program at Anderson College?

“I base my advice on what helped me, and what still helps me. My advice is to get your study buddies, your group of fellow MRT students, together and to help each other out. Your study buddies will be there to support you and remember, you’re not alone. You have your fellow students, but you are also supported by Anderson’s faculty and clinical partners.

“From my own experience, I know time goes by really quickly in the program, and then suddenly, the students that you’re studying with become your colleagues. You end up working together in the profession and you never forget your MRT education and clinical training. I still keep in touch with colleagues I trained many, many years ago. When we get together, we remember stories and talk about the adventures we had, the labs, the clinical sites, getting up for certain shifts and it’s so much fun.

“Students will meet many patients and their families, as well as work various specialized technologists, radiologists (physicians with extensive specialization and training in medical imaging), surgeons, cardiologists, neurologists, urologists, and many other healthcare specialists. This is just to name a few. We all work together and in collaboration. So, my best advice is to build relationships with your study buddies, your friends, so that you can help each other out, while in your program and as you launch your new and exciting healthcare career!

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If you’re still wondering if your interests align with this profession, take the “Anderson College Career Training Readiness Quiz”. But if you’re ready to start your MRT career today or explore our other programs, contact an admissions advisor today. We’re here to help you navigate your way to your first, or next, thriving career.

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