Student Perspective
A New Student's Guide
to the Rad Tech Program
Chest X-Ray

Got your new scrubs on....

...and off to clinical you go! Over the summer when you were accepted, you were given your clinical assignment. You should have called your Clinical Instructor (CI) and found out what time you start and where to go. Each clinical site varies a little on start and end times, but regardless of that every student is required to go for 7.5 hours a day.

Arrive to clinical on time and ready to get your feet wet. Bring a pen, and also bring a small notebook to take notes if you need to. Also, if you have already bought Merrill's, it would be a good idea to go go over some projections like a chest, hand, abdomen x-ray. Any x-ray that is a competency for your first semester is good.

Go over medical terms such as:

  • Lateral/Medial
  • Superior/Inferior
  • Anterior/Posterior
  • Mid-Saggital Plane (MSP), Mid-Coronal Plane (MCP) Transverse Plane
  • Ventral/Dorsal
  • AP(Anterior-Posterior)/PA(Posterior/Anterior) Projections
  • Cephalad/Caudad
  • Distal/Proximal

Your clinical instructor will most likely show you around the first day and introduce you to the techs. You will see their x-ray rooms and I suggest if there is downtime, you play around with them and learn how to move the tube around!

I was nervous - it was my first time in a medical setting for work. I thought it was going to be a very busy, overwhelming day. Luckily I was at a quiet hospital and the clinical instructor was very nice and spent the whole day showing us around and making us comfortable.

Listen in class, listen to the clinical instructors and to the techs. Everyone has something to offer and some good advice on positioning, techniques, patient care, etc... Be humble and accept criticism. Understand that you are not expected to know everything as a student - the best way to learn is to try things.

Here is a sample of what a regular x-ray room looks like:

Here is a sample of what a fluoro room looks like:

Here is a sample of what a portable x-ray machine looks like:

Know What You Need To Do...

The list of competencies that you will need to complete will be passed out to you. They are broken up into semesters, and each semester you much complete them for a passing grade. Don't be scared of comps, but know what you need and be actively looking for them at your hospital.

The very top picture on this page is a chest x-ray. This will most likely be your first comp. It is the one x-ray you will absolutely do the most of! No one should need to babysit you either. Everything is spelled out for you, and it can be a lot of paperwork but just stay on top of it. Be a go-getter and seek out exams. Laziness is frowned upon.

Be aggressive and do as much work as you can even if you've already done a hundred chest X-rays that day or if your already comped. If you have nothing going on find something you're weak in and go.

Don't be cocky and always be willing to work. Nobody likes a lazy student. The way you approach clinical is like a constant job interview. If you are lazy then you will never get hired.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, speak up, and try to do different exams. Know your anatomy!!

We All Make Mistakes....

..the biggest difference is how we handle them. Don't be afraid to try and fail. If you are unsure, ask the tech to stand there and watch you. Making mistakes is part of the learning curve and we were all in your shoes once.

Be a sponge....take criticism without making excuses....make mistakes.....it is a great learning tool

NEVER QUIT. Just keep going. No matter how hard it seems.

Also, the best advice I can give you is to always be sure you performing an exam/procedure on the right day, the right patient and the right area of interest. Positioning mistakes are understandable, but not properly identifying a patient or a date is not as easy to understand. Good Luck and have fun with it!

Over two years, I had my share of mistakes. Centering improperly, wrong angulation, you name it, I probably did it. The best lesson I learned was from a tech that told me that mistakes were fine as long as you OWN the mistake. Don't make excuses like the patient moved, the equipment is running funny, etc. Because the question should be, What could I have done to make this image, exam or procedure better.

I was lowering the hydrolic flouro table, but didn't have the tube in the right place. So as the table went down, it smashed the tube right off it's hinges so to speak. I was terrified. I was a first year student and I broke the room. Yikes !!! Everyone was great about it though. They just laughed and told me of their mistakes to make me feel better.