Home' Be : Issue 10 Contents "The phenomenal technological changes that have taken
place over the past 10 years or so mean some previously critical
components of the cur riculum -- like film construction -- have
been eliminated, and new areas like picture archiving systems
have become integral," she said.
Vast improvements in image quality shouldn't be
misinterpreted as an easy ride for modern-day radiographers.
In fact, Cowling maintains the superior quality of digital
imaging just makes the correct positioning of the patient even
"It means if you are sloppy you will get noticed."
While sonographers and radiographers used to be lumped
in the same basket, Cowling said there are pronounced
differences and that's why CQUniversity has chosen to r un two
"Sonography (ultrasound-based diagnostic imaging
used to visualize parts of the body such as tendons, muscles,
joints, vessels and internal organs) really has become a
science and a profession in its own right because it has
become highly technical."
"While it was always a digital imaging profession, 20 years
ago it was just a lot of dots and dashes, but now we have 3D to see
the baby, for example, and 4D which enables you to see that 3D
image move in real time."
In fact, the technology is changing so rapidly, equipment
can become redundant within five years -- an expensive turnover
when the average ultrasound machine costs about $200,0 0 0.
Despite the staggering price tags, and the mind blowing
technological advancements, not for a second does Cowling
consider the imaging equipment to be the heart and soul of the
"Patient care should come front and centre and above
"It is my opinion that if we have strayed a little in ter ms
of a profession, it is that we have become -- particularly in
radiography -- very obsessed with the equipment."
"The patient should be our first priority, each patient is
an xious and each patient deserves to know what is happening
and needs to trust that you are doing the right thing."
Ironically, it was lack of tr ust in his own judgement
that led Dr Johnny Walker to set up what is now a worldwide
medical imaging business called Global Diagnostics in Western
Back in 1995, a newly graduated Walker ventured to the
rugged Pilbara town of Port Hedland to work as a locum.
Part of his job was to travel to remote outposts with a
portable ultrasound machine to check on the health of young
On one such jour ney he encountered a woman who
e and life-thr
"He was sitting out there thinking to himself, I am just a
new graduate I don't know what I am looking at, I wish I could
beam these images to someone for a second opinion," said
Global Diagnostics Australia CEO Angela Whittington.
That idea became the springboard for a thriving business
that has revolutionised how the medical imaging world works
in rural and remote areas.
From its headquarters in Bunbury, south of Perth,
radiologists make medical diagnoses from the images sent
through to them from x-ray clinics, CT scanners and magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) machines across the state.
The company also has a team of Australian-trained doctors
in Israel, South Africa, Thailand, Ireland, and India.
"What it means is that a person injured in the middle of the
night in the Pilbara can be diagnosed by a radiologist working
in Thailand," Whittington said.
"We can offer a 24 hour a day service, 7 days a week, all year
round -- and never have to drag anyone out of bed."
The internet plays a cr ucial role in the running of the
business, and high speed broadband has completely changed
"The guys who were here from day one say in the past
sending files via the web was like trying to push a watermelon
down a garden hose," Whittington explained.
"It was a long, slow process but it's much different now."
Different too, are the opportunities for radiographers to
move up the ladder.
Clinton Heal has been a radiographer for six years, and is
now studying his MBA.
"There is nothing like someone who has the clinical
experience to move into the operational side of things because
they understand what is going on," Heal said.
The 26-year-old said the medical imaging profession has
allowed him a healthy work-life balance thanks to the shift
work, and the opportunity to work in far-flung places.
"Notjust herein Australia either, I havedone stints overseas
where I have worked for three months and then holidayed for
three -- mainly in Ireland."
He recommended the profession to anyone who wants to be
challenged on a daily basis.
"If you just want to go in to work from 9 to 5 and twiddle
your thumbs and collect a pay packet, it's not for you."
"But if you want variety and you are driven, then you're onto
a winner." •
PHOTO: LISA CLARKE, NEWSPIX
Naomi Calleja, Collection Manager from the Australian Age of
Dinosaurs preparing some of the dinosaur bones found from the
numerous digs in the Winton area.
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