This term we have a radiology course, which has to be one of my favorite classes at PCOM. We have been taught different sections from many health care providers in the area. Each teacher has lectured to us the Dos and Don’ts when reading an image from their own experiences and how they came to “master” films in their respective fields. Each comes with a more fascinating story than the next. I have learned so much in this class; it really is amazing. I remember looking at my first chest x-ray and thinking that I only knew one thing: where the heart was. I have to say I felt pretty dumb, but our teachers assured us that they were not expecting us to be experts. In just a few months I can now say that I feel confident that I can read x-rays and CT scans. While I am in no way an expert, I feel I at least know the anatomy and the correct approach as to avoid missing essential details and diagnoses. I also know to always look for the most common fracture, THE SECOND ONE! I know that reading images will be critical when going on rotations. Having this skill will hopefully impress preceptors and maybe help save a life.
Many times on tests and quizzes I can identify the fracture or the correct location of pneumonia on x-ray but the question may state: “what would you expect to see on this patient?” These used to be the hardest questions for me to answer. Sometimes we tend to forget that this radiograph belongs to someone who needs our help. It is not just a picture, just like lab values are not just numbers. All these tests and images to help aid in diagnosis and further treatment our patient.
This has been a recurrent theme at PCOM in general, not just radiology – “Always treat the patient, not numbers.” It is really simple but something we tend to overlook. I hope that if you are in PA school, nursing school, medical school or in any health profession that you remember this and never forget it! I know I won’t.