Graduate Profile - Sarah Abdul-Jalil
Medical Radiation Technologist - General Radiography
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
(MRS Class of 2020 - Radiological Technology)
What did you study before joining the MRS program?
Prior to joining the MRS program, I was in my first year of post-secondary studies in a Bachelor of Biology program at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. I always knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field, however, the repetitive lecture styles found in most programs was just not right for me. I then looked into programs in Canada and luckily discovered the MRS program and was intrigued by the fact that I would be able to dive into working in the health care field.
The more I read about and continued within the MRS program and the Radiological Technology profession specifically, the more interested I got in it. At the end of the day, no diagnosis can be made without medical imaging, and I wanted to play that important role, whether it was in X-ray, CT, MRI, or Mammography. One of the most appealing aspects of this profession for me was the opportunity to work in different parts of the hospital, whether it was in trauma, in the Operating Room, in Fluoroscopy, in Emergency or even simply in outpatient clinics.
How was the MRS program/student experience different from your previous university experience?
One of the advantages of the MRS program was how it was different from just regular university programs in both lecture and exam styles. The program allowed us to work in a dynamic environment with more hands-on experience. Some of our courses would revolve around biology, physics, anatomy and physiology, however, they always linked back to our profession and we were always able to apply that knowledge directly into our work. Even our exam styles differed in this program, our practical exams consisted of hired actors who you have to interact with.
Another difference you would notice in the MRS program is the small class sizes. This was perfect as we’re all just one family and got along very well with each other. Even our social outings consisted of all of us hanging out together after classes (pre-COVID times of course). This was also an advantage with our professors as they all knew us personally and were always there to assist us when needed.
How did the MRS program prepare you for success and/or your current role?
The three years in the MRS program at Michener prepared me with the knowledge and technical skills through theory, simulations, practice and extensive clinical experiences, to be able to confidently work as a Radiological Technologist when I graduated. Spending the last year in a clinical environment makes the transition into the workforce much easier and less stressful overall. It also allows you to build a relationship with technologists which sometimes can make finding a job easier after graduation.
The most valuable part of the MRS program is the ability to gain experience in all aspects of the field. An interesting fact about Radiological Technologists is the diverse role they play in a hospital. Imaging is needed in Operating Rooms, Trauma scenarios, Fluoroscopy procedures, and many more. Therefore, I was able, throughout my clinical placement, to work within all those areas and gain valuable experiences.
How was the transition from being a student to a professional?
I was fortunate enough to be placed at Sunnybrook hospital for my clinical placement where I learned to be a member of the healthcare team. Within the last year of the program, I had formed professional relationships with managers and friendships with my fellow coworkers. Due to the pandemic, the end of our clinical placement was cut short, however, these relationships alongside my hard work and dedication, provided me with the opportunity to become a part of the Sunnybrook team even before graduation. Currently, I am working in General Radiography at Sunnybrook Hospital. The transition from a student to a professional was smooth simply because it felt like another day of placement. By the end of your placement you feel comfortable enough and are completing cases by yourself that it was not a giant leap into the workforce.
What is your average day like?
While radiologic technologists do have specific duties to perform on the job, the nature of this profession offers plenty of variety and excitement from one shift to the next. No two days are ever truly the same. My shift could be in either the operation room, emergency room, outpatients, trauma, or assisting doctors in fluoroscopy procedures. Working in a hospital, the shift is usually 8 hours and could be days, evening or even nights. I truly enjoy going to work every day as the work environment is uplifting and never boring.
For example, a day in my life if I were working an Emergency shift would consist of taking X-rays of patients coming through emergency. Working in emergency you truly have no idea what could come your way. Some stories of how patients injure themselves could be very dangerous and some stories are actually very funny. You’re also always on alert if there is a trauma that comes in, everything from falls and car accidents to stab or bullet wounds. You play a vital role in ensuring the patient gets the best care and treatment.
What is the most rewarding part of being an MRT?
The most rewarding part of being an MRT is truly working with patients. I do not mean to sound cliché but there have been many scenarios where you truly feel as though you are making a difference in their life, even in the short period of time that you spend with them. One personal experience that I had was with a trauma patient that came in with severe life-threatening injuries and I was the tech who provided the X-rays in the trauma room. Since then I had taken some of her daily Chest X-rays while she was in critical care, I coincidentally was the technologist who was involved in her surgery in the OR, and was lucky enough to take her final X-rays when she was finally well enough to go home. Being able to play a role in her progress from being in a life-threatening situation to being able to finally go back home was truly a rewarding experience.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to become a doctor. I have taken the unusual path to get into medical school but I am so happy and proud that I did. Working as an MRT has provided me with a lot of experiences and stories that I would not have gotten had I gone another route. The interactions, patient education and care skills that I have learned will help to shape me into becoming a successful physician someday and I am grateful for that opportunity.
What did you enjoy most about the MRS program?
I think the most enjoyable part of the MRS program was actually studying for our midterms and finals. (Please hear me out before you question my idea of ‘fun’!). Since a lot of our tests are composed of practical exams and hands-on testing, studying for them was actually a lot of fun. I have memories of staying up late in the library with the majority of our class to study for an exam we had the next day, while laughing and practicing positioning on each other. These moments truly made my whole experience in the MRS program worthwhile and enjoyable.
What advice would you like to share with prospective MRS students?
One piece of advice that I would give to prospective MRS students is to always stay positive and to love everything that you do. You are allowed to fail but you have to be able to pick yourself up and remember why you’re in this field to move forward. Now more than ever in these unusual times of the global pandemic it is not easy being in the healthcare field, so it is very important to stay positive and to truly love what you do. I moved across the world away from my family to be a part of this program and what I learned is that you are never alone. There’s always somebody to reach out to whether it’s your classmates who are in the same position as you, your professors who know you, your friends or your family, there is always someone. So be positive, and have fun – you’ll be an excellent MRT someday!
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For more information about the Radiological Technology stream of the MRS Program visit https://www.radonc.utoronto.ca/radiological-technology