Radiography in Practice : Work and Learning in Medical Imaging

Abstract: Those following the profession of radiographer mainly work in the healthcare sector, with image production in medical imaging or with radiotherapy treatments. Radiographers are responsible for patient care and handling technology in this profession al field. Radiographers’ practice is interesting to study in relation to technical developments and changing conditions for performing professional work.The general aim of this thesis was to empirically explore the main features of radiographers’ work, how advances in tech n ology affect radiographers’ practice, interconnections with other practices and students learn in g in practice on the way to becoming professionals.Methods: Data was collected using interviews and observations (Papers I, II & IV). For Paper III, individual interviews were conducted. Data was analysed using a phenomenological interpretative method (Paper I) and practice theory perspective (Papers II–IV).Findings: Radiographers’ professional work with image production was seen as a process comprising three phases: planning the examination, producing the images, and evaluating the images. During this process, radiographers make judgements to ensure patient safety and adapt the technology in use to the individual patient. When conventional imaging techniques are converted into examinations performed by Computer Tomography, the planning phase of radiographers’ work process becomes more important. Technology improvements also mean that the technical aspects of radiographers’ work with image production are easier to foresee in scheduling examinations. The caring aspects however are difficult to plan for because of little information about the patient before the examination. The professional practices involved in medical imaging interconnect to ensure patient safety through materiality and common tasks and/ or projects. The content and quality of two artefacts, the referral and the image, in these interconnections are important in collaborative work to ensure patient safety within medical imaging. Radiography students learn professional knowing in practice i.e. practice-as-work, practice-as language and practice-as-morality, during their clinical placements through alternating between two modes of participation: either observing and listening or acting by themselves. The students developed knowing in practice if the other practitioners allowed them to alternate between these two modes of participation.Implications: The description of radiographers’ general tasks an d responsibilities in a work process can be used for both educational and professionalization purposes. The identified interconnections between involved professions are useful for quality improvement to secure patient safety. The findings about development of knowing in practice can be used in the planning and evaluation of clinical placements for students.

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