HOS 23 | Radiology Technologist

 

People’s common perception of what radiology technicians do is limited to the idea of them just taking x-rays. What many do not know is that there is so much more to the job than that, and Heather Moore, a certified radiology technologist in the state of California who has been working at Precision Chiropractic for almost six years, tells us all about it. Among her other hats, Heather is also the office manager of the clinic. She shares what a typical day in the life of a radiology technologist looks like on top of being a chiropractic assistant, a manager in a busy chiropractic office, and the best rad tech west of the Mississippi.

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Confessions Of A Radiology Technologist with Heather Moore

How One Rad Tech Learned There Was So Much More To X-Rays Than Just Taking Them

My guest, Heather Moore, is a certified radiology technologist in the State of California and has been working at Precision Chiropractic for a number of years. Not only does she take all the X-rays in the office when Dr. Hoefer isn’t around, but she also is the office manager and wears about 62 other hats. I can’t wait for you to read all the exciting things Heather has to say about being a chiropractic assistant, a manager in a busy chiropractic office, and the best rad tech west of the Mississippi.

Heather, I am excited to have you. It’s been a few years since I’ve wanted to interview you. I’m excited to have you here and I want to get into your story because you have been such a tremendous asset to Precision Chiropractic. Give me a little background. Tell me where you’re from, what you’re about?

First, thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I attended high school in Monroe, North Carolina, and then I started school at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to get my associates. While I was there, I was undecided and I was looking at biology and then someone said, “Why don’t you do X-ray?” I was like, “Okay.” I looked into X-ray school and found out all of the details of what X-ray technologist do. I applied and I got in. It was a twenty-month program. It was very hard. We did it at this nursing school. It was mostly for nursing but they had a small radiology program, which I attended. We did all of our clinicals at the hospital, which was Carolinas Medical Center. I did all of my rotations there. I graduated and then I started a job at a hospital that I trained at, which was easy because I already knew everything. I attended there for about a year and then I moved to California.

You were going to go to school and you were thinking about biology and then you got into the rad tech program and then it was all medical. You worked in a hospital system, you had all of your training with trauma. I know we’ve talked about all kinds of funny stories and different things you’ve seen. We won’t go into that here but you could just imagine having somebody come in and all of a sudden you’re having an X-ray taken and all the different manner of things that could show up on an X-ray.

We did traumas where people came in with different situations, car accidents, falls off roofs and stuff like that. You had your regular X-rays on the floors where people needed a chest X-ray or you went into the OR for surgery to assist with those types of cases.

You had a huge gamut of the different ways that you were able to apply your radiology technology skills.

I have no idea of all the studies that we can do with showing the small intestine, large intestine, to find out why people are having gastric issues. In the OR, we’re in there assisting doctors with putting pins and rods into certain areas. If you were on the floor doing portable chest X-rays or you’re doing an abdomen view and all the different areas. We were always running around the hospital where we needed to be.

We’re going to get into this but did you have a lot of exposure to spine specifically? Were you ever in an OR with a doctor where they were doing a spine fusion, a fractured spine or anything like that?

With those type of cases, we would go into the OR and you’d have this machine called a C-Arm. It was like a live X-ray. It would be over the patient the whole time. Whenever the surgeon needed to see what he was doing at that spot, he would say, “Image or X-ray or picture,” and then you would just click the picture so that he can specifically see where the screw is at. Are they too far in or they need to go in further? If they were replacing a hip, it was cool watching them use the tools of putting the replacement on the hip itself.

That is outstanding. I got to participate in grand rounds in a neurosurgical setting. I wasn’t actually in the surgery but I got to see where the OR was and where they went in. I wasn’t able to participate in the actual surgery, but you got to be in there like the surgical techs, the nurses and the OR doctors or whatever they’re doing.

You got to experience everything that you see in an OR situation and you were always called in the next room. “We need an X-ray tech in here,” you’d run to the next room and then you run back to that room. “Is there anything you need from me?” “No, you’re good. Thank you. Go to the next room.”

It was fast-paced.

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Depending on which hospital. Some hospitals have smaller ORs. There are only a couple of rooms. When I worked at the one in Charlotte, there were 32 rooms. There were usually at least four of us that would stay in the OR. We had our own little X-ray area where we would hang out until they called us and said, “We need you to do on OR room 219.”

Having been a patient at a hospital, like needing to have a CT scan, an X-ray done with me or my kids or whatever, can you give me a little bit of understanding of why in the world does it take so long to get a picture done?

Sometimes, especially in the ER, they’re triaging depending on how bad your case is. If somebody comes in that needs that CT scan faster than you, they’re going to go first. Depending on it, you’ve got a radiologist who needs to read it, you’ve got a radiologist who has all of these scans and X-rays coming at him and he has to read them one at a time, depending on how big the hospital is, depends on how many doctors you have. It takes a while.

What’s interesting, having an explanation gives me a little bit more grace because when you’re a patient and you’re just sitting there for four hours waiting for a certain image or the results, it’s like, “What are they doing? Twiddling their thumbs?” Just in this short little time, I’ve learned that you were running back and forth from room to room in Emergency, in OR, busy. I can appreciate having to wait a little bit.

We would have to wear walkie talkies on us so they could call and see what floor you’re on and say, “I need you on room on a fourth floor. This one needs a stat chest X-ray.” We’ve been running around, pushing our little portable around the OR, then we would do those in the operating room, around the hospital. You guys have seen that big machine that’s it’s like a bulldozer looks like coming at you. We’re pushing, but there’s so much going on depending on what type of hospital you’re at. Just triage is the biggest thing, the life-threatening injuries.

With you having graduated from college and your Radiology Technology degree, did you automatically have digital or were you still using cassettes and plain film when you first graduated?

When I was in school, we were digital but we also had to go to some clinics and one clinic was old school, where I had to go inside this dark room with the revolving door. I was always scared to go in there because it was pitch black and until you found that red light on the wall. I was already exposed to the digital world with that. The hospital I trained at was level one trauma. We had all the newest technology always. It was easy starting from there. The next hospital that I went to, they were cassettes, but there was a machine that put the cassette in. It would run your film and would shoot out the other end. There was no going into a dark room like I did when I was in school.

Having had that dark room training, that’s the basic understanding of what mass or how much X-rays you’re going to use and how powerful that X-ray is going to be. Being able to have that basic entry-level understanding then allows you to use a digital technology more effectively.

You understand how the X-rays work when you have the old school X-rays, of how much energy is going to hit that plate. You need to know how much you need, how much you don’t need. With the digital world, it took care of that for you. You learn so much more when we have the old school cassettes, going into the dark room, learning the chemicals and what their job is. This chemical does this, this chemical does that. If one of them is off, you’re not going to get a good X-ray.

I also had that massive training in chiropractic school. I totally understand what you’re talking about, which then leads us into the conversation of you end up in California. How did you get here and what was going on in your life with that?

I moved here due to military move. When I got here, I was looking for a job and I wanted to do something different than working in a hospital with the late hours or depending on the holidays that you work. I figured I would give a shot and see maybe doctor’s office or an urgent care. I saw an ad for a chiropractic office and I thought, “It will be easy. It’s just spines.” Little did I know it was more to that.

HOS 23 | Radiology Technologist

Radiology Technologist: You understand how the X-rays work when you have the old-school X-rays.

 

I think it was Craigslist, wasn’t it?

It was Craigslist.

This was a number of years ago. This was before Indeed and all of the fancier ways to find help came along. We put an ad on Craigslist because that was the thing to do. I was pregnant with my little Claire Bear. I wasn’t going to be able to be in the office to process the new patients and take the X-rays. Because I had been in practice for five years, we had so many patients, Dr. Tomp had to cover my practice, his practice, and somehow be able to take new patient X-ray still, and there’s not enough time in the day. We placed an ad hoping to find somebody that could take X-rays for us to at least handle that aspect of it. We had the ad placed. What was funny is, and I have shared this with you, Heather. We had hired some other lady. We interviewed her, we hired her and this was before I met you.

She called the day before she was supposed to start and she said, “I’ve accepted a job somewhere else and I’m not going to be coming to work for you.” I was a little bit under a timing pressure because I was eight months pregnant. Literally, this baby’s coming whether I like it or not and we have to find somebody that I can train before I leave for maternity leave. We had eight weeks. Heather Moore decided to put an application in and we met. Unfortunately, I probably broke every law for human resources because I was asking questions about being married, having kids and all kinds of funny stuff that you’re not supposed to talk about. That’s who I am and I’ve learned in my ways, so don’t even get an idea. I’m a better Human Resource operator at this point. Am I not, Heather?

Yes, you’re doing much better.

Thank you so much. Heather agreed to come work for us and I was very grateful. She started June 15th and we had about four weeks to get her trained before I left for a two-week vacation that was pre-planned way before I ever even knew I was having a baby. We’re going to get her trained and then she’s going to have a trial run at this for two weeks, while I’m out of the office to be prepared for six weeks later when I actually left for my maternity leave because I was giving birth. I went to Wisconsin, I remember being so nervous. I made my husband drive me in from this little town in Wisconsin that didn’t have any internet. I made him drive me into town every day so I could call and check on her to see how she was doing. Not because she wasn’t, because I was nervous that she would hate it because it’s so very different. The X-rays that we take are completely different from traditional medical X-rays.

That is very true. When I walked into the office and saw the X-ray bucky that it tilted, I was like, “I’ve never seen that before.” When I learned that there are different views and I had not learned in the X-ray field because we learned every single X-rays you can think of. I was like, “This is totally different than just spine X-rays.”

She thought she was going to take an easy job at a doctor’s office with AP, lateral and maybe an oblique spine view. Then we threw on her the very complicated Blair series and all the different ways we take our special pictures, which delineates us from traditional chiropractic. This is what Dr. Blair had developed back in the ‘50s. I had to train her in about a month how to take views that it took me about seven years to get good at.

It was difficult at first and trying to understand what this view was, was a little bit above me. I’m trying to figure out, “What are they looking at?” When I took X-rays, we would just go, “The spine’s there, next person.” There was no looking at pathology, looking for a possible misalignment. When I got here and they showed me these 3D X-rays that I was going to take, I was like, “I never knew the machine can actually do this type of imaging.” It’s very different.

It was cool to be able to challenge her professionally in that way. She grew and being able to take the X-rays. What was remarkable is because she understood the science of X-ray, teaching her how to take the view was pretty straightforward. A few years later, if she had ability and a license to practice chiropractic, I always tease her I’d be out of a job because she can look in an X-ray, know what the misalignment is and give us opinions like, “It looks pretty interior. You might want to check that out.”  “I want to make sure you can see this part of the skull, make sure you can see the edge and make sure that that isn’t burned out. Can you read this?” She can troubleshoot for us. She’s helping me train the interns that we are training from the colleges that we work with. Having her has been an amazing blessing to the practice because she doesn’t just wear the radiology technology hat, she wears the office manager hat, the HR hat, the medical records hat and the paper towel changer hat.

I help with that. I wear multiple hats in the office, but I’m proud to work on those multiple hats.

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She has grown from just taking X-rays. Not that she just took X-rays at the hospital, but I want to talk to you about why you stayed at a chiropractor office. You could probably go to the hospital, make way more money and have better insurance, but why do you stay with us? We are so thankful and know that you provide such a critical aspect to the way that we deliver care. We have a great team and a great flow with the way that we process on your patients.

I love it here because I get to see how the patients come in and how they walk out that door. It’s not like in a hospital where somebody comes in with a broken arm, I X-ray them and I never see that patient again, unless they come in again because they broke another arm or another object. I love how I can see them walk through the door. I see how much pain they’re in, I talk to them, I figure out where they’ve been. I hear their stories. I take their X-rays. I watch them get adjusted and I watch them heal. I watch them go through the journey of feeling better.

It’s just more of a feel good, like I get to see my results. I get to see what they overcome, how they avoid surgery. I build these relationships. They know me. They know my family, they ask me about my family. I know about their family. I love the feeling of what we’ve created in this office of the relationships we built. You can’t find that when you go to an urgent care or a radiology imaging center. It’s like, “Hi, Mr. Jones. Bye, Mr. Jones.” Here we see Mr. Jones over and throughout months, years because they want to maintain staying in alignment. It’s a lot different. I get to see what I get to do for these people.

That is so rewarding and I know that’s what keeps us going every day are the stories. People come in, they’re hurting and we give them solutions, we give them hope.

You see them crawling through the door and they were like, “The surgeon told me I need surgery or I need to do this. I need to be on medication for the rest of my life.” We adjust them and we see them heal and we see these miracles happen every day in this office. That’s what’s rewarding and that’s why I stay. I love what I see. I love what we can do for patients and giving them their lives back. I love all my co-workers. It’s great place to work. The value I see and why I stay, I love seeing patients better. I love seeing them smile.

This is the exact thing that you want to create for all the doctors who are reading or for the patients who want to become a patient here at Precision Chiropractic. This is the level of care, expertise and love that you’re going to receive because we have the heart behind what we do. It’s our why. She happens to be a radiology technologist, but does she go above and beyond. Heather, I want you to talk a smidge about your experience at Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic because you had never been under chiropractic care.

I never knew that you could get chiropractic care when you’re pregnant. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had sciatic pain. I started getting restless leg syndrome, which never went away after I had my first child. When I came here, I didn’t have any symptoms that I could think. I was like, “Here and here I get this little pain,” but I didn’t think anything of it. I wanted to see what patients experience. I want to be able to tell them what to expect after they get the first adjustment, what to expect in the future. I said, “Check me. Am I out of alignment?” Dr. Hoefer checked me. Sure enough there was, I had a lot of traumas, concussions as a kid but I didn’t feel like I had any real symptoms. I got adjusted. One thing that I noticed after I got adjusted was my restless leg syndrome went away. Dr. Hoefer’s like, “You didn’t tell me you had restless leg syndrome.” I said, “I didn’t think of it. I thought it was there for the rest of my life.” Most doctors don’t recognize what restless legs syndrome is.

If you don’t have it, you will never understand it. For people who have it, it is the worst thing, especially if it’s at night when you’re trying to sleep in your legs will not stop moving. The rest of your body is tired, but your legs want to go and you’re kicking the sheets and you want to get up and run a mile in the middle of the night. It’s not going to happen. I got adjusted and it went away. I was talking to you and you’re like, “It’s a neurological response.” I’m like, “It’s so interesting.” I get to share that testimony when patients come in with restless leg syndrome. I’m like, “Mine went away with one adjustment.” I know you’ve probably talked about on the show with retracing and that’s the healing cycles that your body goes back through. When I go through my retracing, I have one night where it would be a few minutes, I feel my restless leg syndrome flare up. It’s a reminder, “I used to have that,” and then it goes away. That was my personal testimony. I had restless leg syndrome and it went away.

You’ve been under care since you started working for us, you’ve got your kids in under care. The funny thing is when she drives past car accidents on the freeway, she wants to throw a pin or a card at them. We see so many people that have been in car accidents and not only did they get better from the car accident, but they get better from all the other stuff that they had going on that they didn’t even know that they need the chiropractor for.

I didn’t know that chiropractic was about the full body. When I first heard about chiropractic, “They adjust this and adjust that and your neck and your back.” I realized when I started working here, and I see these patients come in with other symptoms as in migraines, headaches, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances. I was like, “That fixes that too.” I’m always out there educating people, “Chiropractic is more than just neck and back pain. It’s your full body because your nervous system dictates everything in there. When there’s an irritation, the body and the brain are connected. The brain’s not sending those correct signals to the rest of those areas.”

I love that you get it. I could stop doing everything that I do and know that I’ve made an impact in the world because Heather knows. She makes such a huge difference in the life of our patients in our practice. If they’re referred to me, she sees them on my side. If they’re referred to Dr. Tomp, she gets to go over there and work with them on his side. It’s amazing that she is the glue that holds us together. She literally gets the images for us and we don’t even have to worry. There’s no question. When Heather’s gone, I feel lonely because I feel like I don’t have my partner in crime. When I have to take full X-rays, it’s good for me to take them but I miss her because it takes me about fifteen minutes to take a full X-ray because also have to analyze the base posterior, to get the protract reviews that we take. When Heather and I are working together, we can do it in three minutes.

HOS 23 | Radiology Technologist

Radiology Technologist: Chiropractic is more than just neck and back pain. It’s your full body because your nervous system dictates everything in there.

 

The patient’s like, “You do that fast.”

It’s fun. I am so thankful that you are reading the passion behind Heather and I think she’s the secret sauce, to be honest. The Blair correction is amazing. Without it, you’re not going to be your full potential. If Heather Moore has something to say about it, you’re going to be winning on every level. I’m thankful that you were here to tell me your story and thankful for sharing your heart. I’m thankful that you put that desire out there to work for a chiropractor and that Craigslist ad was what we needed to get you in here.

It paid off that Craigslist ad. The one and only. I was like, “Chiropractor, that’s easy.”

Thank you so much for everything you do here at Precision Chiropractic and I can’t wait for all of these people reading to come and meet you here.

I would love to see and meet them and watch them go through their healing journey.

Thanks, Heather, so much for being here.

Thank you.

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About Heather Moore

HOS 23 | Radiology TechnologistHeather Moore was born and raised in North Carolina. (Yes, she is a Southern Belle.) She became a radiology technologist in 2002. Her first job as a Rad Tech was for a very busy hospital in Charlotte. Heather moved around for a few years trying out different places and hospitals to work at, before finally settling in beautiful Southern California.

Heather switched job scenery when she started working for Precision Chiropractic in 2013. Now not only is she the X-ray Tech for the office she is also the office manager.

Heather is a busy mom of 2 boys and 1 girl. Her hobbies include maintaining the crazy cat lady status and being a soccer mom minus the minivan.

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