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BISP student Siew Hui Yap recently went to Phuket International Hospital for two weeks’  work experience, here is her report:

On my first day here, I admit that I’m a bit anxious about this whole hospital work experience. For one, I have never been on an internship before, so it concerns and thrills me at the same time to know that I’m about to experience something different.

My supervisor, Khun Em, who’s in charge of allocating me into my respective department in the hospital, shows great hospitality. She’s soft-spoken and is extremely helpful in easing me into the environment. 

She explained the whole structure of Phuket International Hospital, and even took the time to take me on a tour around the hospital. After showing me around, and introducing me to my seniors for the next few weeks, I felt a bit more relaxed.

Other than the administrator and the nurses working here, the radiologist is the doctor who analyses the X-rays for identification, diagnosis and treatment for many types of medical condition. 

Whereas a radiology technologist is one to conduct the radiology scans for the patients. He has to know which body parts to scan when the doctor requests for a scan. For example: a scan for sinuses will require scanning the front of the face in order to locate the sinuses and so on.

In addition, I’ve also learned how to take an X-ray. Upon taking an X-ray photograph, the patient has to inhale a deep breath and hold as the medical staffs press the button and takes the photo. By doing this, the lungs will expand as the air enters the lungs, and a clearer view will show.

The radiology technologists were to contact the doctor immediately if they were to encounter any life-threatening injuries such as skull fracture, pneumothorax and broken ribcage. Fortunately, I have not seen any patients who have serious injuries like the ones mentioned above.

As X-ray uses small amounts of radiation, the technologists are to stay in a closed room whenever an X-ray is conducted. With that being said, the level of radiation exposure is considered safe for adults, but not for a developing fetus. Pregnant ladies are suggested to use a different testing method such as an MRI instead.

I have also observed my first ultrasound. The doctor applied blue coloured gel on the patient. She then moved a device called a transducer over the patient’s body. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off the tissues in the body. And captures the waves that bounce back. The ultrasound machine then creates images from the sound waves. If water is present, black matter could be observed on the screen.

In some cases, contrast medias (also known as a contrast dye) were used before and after the test. However, it isn’t compulsory, but only upon the doctor’s request. The radiology technologists will give the patient as an injection, an edema, or a pill to swallow before the test. 

I have the privilege to help out and observe a Lower GI Test to examine the digestive tract. I had to wear heavy blue suits, neck covers and lab glasses that protect me from the radiation. 

The patient had to drink the barium sulphate liquid (pink) we’ve prepared for the test. As the liquid passes through the lower intestines, it fills the colon and allows the radiologist to see growths and areas that are narrowed. And what’s fascinating is that, we could see the colour agent showed up in black on the monitor screen. 

As the patient sips the liquid through a straw, the liquid could clearly be seen, going down the oesophagus and filling up the stomach before moving to the colon. I think observing a test this close up and wearing ridiculous looking anti-radiation clothes made this particular experience more worthwhile.

Albeit coming here as a radiology intern, I had two chances whereby I worked alongside my seniors as a Chinese translator. One was a patient who sprained her ankle. And multiple X-ray photographs were taken at different angles of the targeted area to provide an overall view of the injury. For example, this patient injured her ankle, therefore the front view and the side view of the ankle have to be scanned.

My second opportunity in translating was a patient about to go in for her CT scan. I explained to the Chinese patient about her test and the medical procedures. I also informed her about the contrast media she’s going to receive slowly after her first scan and the side effects like rashes or itchiness that might occur. And that she might feel a bit hot. Metals and jewellery were taken off as these objects would affect the accuracy of the photograph. 

The Chinese patient had the CT scan conducted on her neck and she had to take the test at least twice, which was before and after injecting the contrast-media, also known as a colour media that shows the presence of the blood vessels. 

Khun Jeab, the Head of Radiology Department, showed me the difference between before injecting the media and after injecting the media. I could see the presence of the blood vessels in white after the injection. It was my first time observing a CT scan and it was really an eye-opener. 

It is very important to disinfect the medical equipment that was previously used by the patients. He cleaned the X-ray equipment with disinfectant wipes to ensure that any potential diseases carried by the previous patient would not have a chance to spread onto the next patient. As medical staffs, we’re also required to clean our hands thoroughly with hand sanitizers. 

These gestures dawned on me that it’s vital to always be thoughtful towards our patients, which is to ensure that they receive polite treatments and also a clean environment where they can receive their medical treatment.

Working in the radiology department is no easy task. The technologists here have to work repetitively long hours, ranging from 8 to 18 hours a day. They don’t show their exhaustion while they tend to their patients. 

One thing I’ve realized from my seniors here is that their passion for their job somehow drives them through their everyday routine, be it conducting an X-ray of the patients, or communicating with the patients, they’re very patient and they always carry a smile on their faces. I could feel that they really care about their patients’ welfare, and that they really hold responsibility in their job. 

In a nutshell, I have learned more than what I have expected. Not only had I gotten close with people who don’t share the same language, I am also touched by the warm welcome I have received by my temporary colleagues. What’s important is that, I’ve learned more about myself and where my interests might lie. 

Thank you to Phuket International Hospital, Khun Em and all the medical staffs in the Radiology Department who are constantly sacrificing themselves for the welfare of others. The world needs more people like you guys. I hope that I would be able to return for another internship as enjoyable as this!