I know that the lack of recognition from the Ford government has brought MRTs and DMSs out of the woodwork en masse and a common theme has been communicated amongst everyone. What is the REAL issue lighting a fire under the MRTs butts? Why are we so passionate about this fight? What is it that is really making everybody SO mad?
It’s the lack of acknowledgment and the loss of identity as a profession. That nurses are the favourite child and we are invisible. The favouritism that is shown towards nurses is historical and can anger a tech at a speed of 0-60 in 1 second! So, we feel like there is an ongoing competition with nurses, and here we have Doug Ford trying to help out poorly paid LTC staff working in deplorable conditions in highly infected areas, and he decided to just throw in “acute hospital nurses”. Did we see our profession blow up like an A-bomb? We most certainly did! Why? Underneath it all – it’s not about “we didn’t get it” – it’s all about “nurses got it AGAIN”. But it’s more than that. It’s an underlying issue for our profession that is there and will be there in the future whether we get any wage top-up or not. Once again, that is IDENTITY.
I have been a tech for 40 years. I have had this happen ALL the time. I am seeing so many other MRTs express the same thing from all over the province. “People don’t know what we are.” “People think we are nurses.” (Except for those who know we are not nurses and are “x-ray people” and call us Radiologists. LOL). Not only have nurses always got the cream off the top but they also have taken our identity! The Public KNOW we take their x-rays or do their ultrasounds, or whatever exam or treatment we do for them. They KNOW what we DO. They don’t know who we ARE. They think we are nurses who work in an imaging capacity.
Now, more than ever, there is a need to educate the public about who we are, as a profession. Although Medical Radiation Technologist does accurately describe us in technical terms, it is not an easily understandable string of words to the general public. A nurse is a nurse, is a nurse. Simple term. But within our profession, there are so many varied modalities. An x-ray tech is an MRT, a Sonographer is a DMS under the MRIT umbrella. Further to that, an MRI tech is an MRT. A radiation therapist is an MRT. A Nuclear Medicine tech is an MRT. It’s not as simple within our profession.
Over the last few days, I have seen many of the techs on Facebook talking about how they are paying more attention to how they introduce themselves, using a more educational approach, paying more attention to the “what we do part of the NOD.
“Name, Occupation and what you are going to Do”. [Learn more about NOD here].
NOD is great, as well as necessary, but it got me thinking. There must be a way of educating the public along the same lines as the NOD introduction. I think it’s the perfect time to implement an ad campaign to do just this. I am not thinking of something COVID related, but rather a long term educating of the public, extending beyond the end of the pandemic. I suggest a poster campaign in our departments. Simple posters, not a lot of reading required, but stating our message in large letters. Put the NOD on posters (without a specific name). I envision a picture of a tech, with relevant equipment or imaging in the background, and the words “I am a Medical Radiation Technologist. I will be doing your x-ray today”. Another one with an ultrasound background and “I am a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. I will be doing your ultrasound today”. With an MRI in the background and “I am a Medical Radiation Technologist. I will be doing your MRI today”. And the same for each discipline. We need an ad campaign that is simple yet addresses our identity problem. A poster for EVERY modality that makes up MRITs that clearly makes a connection in the public’s minds between the job they know we do and our identity as a profession.
In fact, if people don’t think it sounds too petty, it could be prefaced with “I am not a nurse.”
The format is simple, with 3 layers: Background, tech picture, introduction. Chose a background that shows equipment or images that clearly shows the job in a way the public recognizes, add a uniformed tech in their NORMAL work uniform for their department (NOT in Covid PPE as this is a campaign that needs to stick around into the future after the pandemic is over), and add the introduction that fits the discipline. Make one for every modality that has their separate branch of our profession (usually identified by separate workspaces in the hospital like general x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT, Nuc Med, Mammo, Therapy, and not just separate designations within OAMRS (either with or without the nurse reference). Add an OAMRS logo in the bottom corner and DONE!
I know it can be a challenge to get the appropriate pictures that are not copyright protected so it was suggested that we run a contest with the members asking them to submit pictures of themselves with their identifiable equipment. Post the contest on Facebook. Again, I know people are obsessed with pics of themselves in PPE these days, but these posters should be regular working uniforms, not PPE pics. I have thrown together a few small mock-ups (see attached? to give an idea of what I’m talking about. I’m sure I haven’t included everybody.
Hoping my idea can spark an educational movement in our profession, and somehow these posters can be put together and made available to DI departments both in hospitals and in independent clinics, anywhere an MRT/DMS works.
This would be our Identity Campaign, our “NOD to ourselves”.
Thank you for listening to my idea!
Janet Reid MRT(R); DMS
Here are a few mock-up ad ideas, I created. OAMRS will have to professionally design posters for distribution.
Janet Reid has over 40 years’ experience working as an MRT and Sonographer. After a brief time spent in Toronto and Southern Ontario she returned to her northern roots 30 years ago and currently works at Anson General Hospital, Iroquois Falls. When not working Janet spends her time with her family and on her creative passions of drawing and writing.