With advancement of technology and modernization, the utilization of such services as a radiographer has increased with time. The experts in this field, therefore, have to interact with a number of people including patients, doctors, nurses and other relevant professionals outside the medical field. This mans that the need for communication skills is basic to the work of any radiographer. They should equip themselves with different communication modalities such as CT, MRI, and other skills required in X-ray communication. Such communication skills allow the radiographer to work together with other relevant individuals in the profession to allow a holistic patient care strategy.
According to Ayers (2012, p.6), radiography is a term used to refer to various types of studies that need the visualization of the internal body parts with the help of X-ray techniques. It then provides the radiographer with the image(s) after the exposure which is then used for treatment purposes by the doctors.
Due to the importance and the need for radiography, RAD-AID International has come up with programs aimed at improving communication skills among radiographers in assisting developing countries. This has been achieved through education and training of radiographers in the basics of comminication skills. The program has enabled radiographers to communicate freely with different groups of people they interact with on their daily operations (Kaushal, 2007, p.1). This paper will discuss both the necessity and the modalities of good communication skills among radiographers.
Communication between Patient and Radiographer
Communication here is the way in which thoughts and ideas are exchanged for the purpose of conveying information. In this set up the radiologist should pass various kinds of information to the patients and the patients as well to them in the language that is understandable to both. For example, the radiologist may need to explain what is to be expected in the examination to the patients, while the patient may also need to ask questions or even explain to the specialist how they are feeling. Communication can also be verbal or non verbal. Still in certain circumstances, face-to-face means of communication can be applicable.
Enfiger (2011, P.3) notes that there are still certain situations where information has to be passed, but the parties involved can be very far away from each other. These facts points out that every radiographer must equip himself/herself with skills in all these forms of communication. He identified some of the skills, which radiographers should adopt, when communicating verbally as audibility and proper listening. Saia D (2009, p.522) also argued that in trying to diagnose a patient through radiography, communication between a patient and the radiographer should be very effective so as to get a radiograph of optimal quality.
Additionally, Easton (2009, p.24) observed that whenever patients are psychologically prepared in what they expect in the process, there is always high chances that they will cooperate with radiographers. Such cooperation is anticipated, since the patient has already known what kind of procedure is going to be and even the importance of the same process to them. Good communication between the radiographer and the patients also enables the patients to be satisfied with the services they receive from these specialists. This is because good communication helps establish a mutual understanding between the two parties. Moreover, Easton (2009, p.24) notes that this satisfaction has been observed within radiologists themselves.
Easton (2009, p.24) further noted that through effective communication, patients can have a speedier recovery from the surgical procedures. Additionally, effective communication also enables patients to develop trust in the specialists as they are able to listen and understand one another. This in turn enables radiologists to come up with the exact patient’s problem. Even during occasions that patients may be hopeless in matters of health, good communication can help restore hopes among them, especially when specialists converse to them in a caring manner.
Fleitz & Campeau (2010, p.42) note that because patients for radiography vary, the same should be with the modes of communication used by the radiographer to convey messages to them. It is, therefore, very important for the radiographer to know how to converse with various patients depending on their situations and backgrounds. For instance, in Pediatrics, radiographers should really learn how to communicate with both young children and adolescents. Treating a child is not the same as treating an adult. The minors cannot express themselves. This makes communication very difficult. Radiographers must, therefore, learn how to communicate to them even if it means observing exhibited behaviors Subotsky (2010, p. 28) also argues that school age children should better be asked questions together with their parents so as to aid communication.
On the other hand,Hall & Conn (2006, p.24) observe that adults are in most cases very independent minded unlike children who cannot make decisions. This makes communication between them and radiographers easier. That is the way they can talk and be talked to. As a result, it becomes possible for practitioners to understand their problems faster and perform the required radiography. Additionally, this ease in communication with adults further results from the fact that adults are equally not as stubborn as children. However, it is important for radiographers to know that, depending on the type of the disease, adults may at the same time prove difficult to manage. For instance, an adult patient may be responding with groans or coughs making it hard to understand him. Murray & Kyle (2008, p.434) point out that in such a case, the radiologists should use built-in voice responses or even have the patient outfitted with a battery powered, wireless, two way communication system for easy communication.
In the case of pregnant women, Fosbinder & Orth (2012, p.150) note that radiographers normally have challenges as pregnant women may fail to communicate effectively due to labor pain. He further argued that the pregnant women’s ineffectiveness in communication can also be due to mood change, which is as a result of hormonal reactions. Therefore, radiographers have to understand all these so as to find a better way to communicate with such patients. In most cases, this can be done by them being friendly and tolerant to their patients. Kwong (2009, p.9) also points out that since each and every patient’s needs have to be taken care of, radiologists have to really try their best to communicate effectively for better delivery of services and for continued patient satisfaction.
In performing radiography, certain techniques are used so as to establish a real problem. Fleitz & Campeau (2010, p.272) identified a number of these techniques including the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which according to Kramme, Klaus, & Pozos (2011, p.307) is a method aided with radio waves, magnetism, and a computer to produce body images. It is an exceptionally accurate method, which detects diseases throughout the body. This technique is appropriate for the infants for they cannot talk or really say where the problem is. It is, therefore, the use of such imaging techniques that the problem can be discovered. A radiographer must, therefore, know how to use and communicate the results obtained from the use of such technologies to the patients or their care taker.
X-ray is another technique, which can be used to get the image of the internal parts of the body, whose results he/she will need to communicate to the patient, care givers or other relevant medical practitioners. According to Crundel & Joarder (2009, p.3), X-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation sent by a machine through the body in a process during which a film is used to take the image created. From the result, radiologists are able to detect the problem and even establish the cause(s), which they will then need to communicate to the relevant medical practitioners for further treatment.
Another technique used by these experts is the Computed Tomography (CT). This method uses X-rays as to come up with pictures of the internal parts of the body. All these techniques can be applied independently depending on the problem the patient has. It is, therefore, upon the radiographer to, through effective communication, establish the problem that the patient has, choose on the appropriate technique, and finally communicate the results in a way that can be understood by both patients and other medical practitioners (Hofer. 2007, p.3).
Communication between Radiographers and other Medical Practitioners
In health care setting, radiographers are never alone and work together with doctors and nurses. Wichmann (2011, p.497) observes that radiographers and these groups of medical practitioners have a lot of information to share regarding their patients. He also notes that apart from such information, they also share a number of management issues which demands that radiographers poses certain communication skills.
Effective communication is very important in such a setting. For instance, radiographers after performing radiology on their patients have to communicate the results to the doctors who will then come up with the right treatment for the patient. In cases where doctors do not have the required details of radiology due to ineffective communication, the patient may also suffer from the consequences of poor communication.
It is also important to note that good communication skills can also help create a peaceful working atmosphere for radiographers. This is because; in case there is a problem between themselves and other medical practitioners, it would be then easier to then understand each other. Additionally, effective communication acts as a motivator in such an organization. Since the doctors will be able to elaborate well to the radiographers their responsibilities and show them what to convey after interpreting radiology results, the radiologists will feel motivated and energized to work since they know what they are doing. In addition, good communication skills also enhance the radiographers’ socialization skills enabling them to coexist in an organization set up.
Communication among Radiographers Themselves
The radiographers themselves work in the same department, and equally need to practice good communication skills. In fact, they even need more coordination within their department, which can only be realized through effective communication. Communication is also necessary in situations where the seniors have to instruct the juniors on what to do when carrying out radiology. With good communication skills, the persons being instructed can easily grasp the procedures and learn the work fast enough.
In communication it is not only important to give instructions, but also motivate radiographers. This is especially so with junior specialists who have to be told their roles and how to perform them. The motivation results from the fact that the juniors are encouraged by the instructions and that they are able to learn how to work by themselves. Additionally, it is also important to note that good communication leads to proper coordination of the work of the radiographers (Wichmann, 2011, p.497).
Equally effective management of the department by the team leader will require good communication skills. The control of such a department is very important as it enables ease in the operation. Finally, communication skills are very necessary in enhancing feedback information among the radiographers. This happens in a scenario where a message is passed and response has to be gotten back.
Communication a Holistic Patient care Strategy Vs Radiographer
According to Wichmann (2011, p.497), radiographers can neither work in isolation nor be limited by working with other medical staff. As a strategy to take care of the patients as required, there should be a good relationship between them and other professionals such as dietitians and electronic engineers. Such level of cordial relationship can only be attained through good communication skills.
Dietitians, for example, are very necessary for advice to patients on diet issues and since it is also in the interest of every radiographer to have their patient healthy, they have to work closely with dietitians. Therefore, effective communication skills enable radiographers to consult with dietitians. Equally, radiologists also need electronic engineers who have the knowledge of the electronic machines, which they are using. The radiologists thus need to know and communicate freely with these engineers.
In conclusion, communication skills are, therefore, very important in linking the radiologists with their patients, medical counterparts, and other professionals. There is, therefore, a need for every radiographer to endeavor to achieve such level of skills in communication as can allow him/her to communicate with others without any difficulties.