This semester my volunteer work for CHI St. Joseph’s Hospital is not at the stroke unit.

I miss my nurse friends, but I also love my new position. Now I’m an x-ray technician volunteer at an orthopedic surgery outpatient center. Since I’m in anatomy this semester, it’s really helpful to see all the x rays and get a better grasp on the skeletal system.

I know my help makes Janie’s Wednesday afternoon go a whole lot smoother. Basically I go get the patient, enter their information and charge into the machine, help set up the patient and the machine up to get a great picture, then watch as she edits the picture to show what the doctors want.

Janie is the main x ray tech. She’s a young mother of two cute boys, but she is so small town southern that it kinda hurts. She just likes to chat. I really love Linda. She fills in for Janie when she can’t come in, which is actually a lot. Linda is a medical assistant but used to be an x ray tech. She is amazing, even though she’s always a little flustered because she should be doing her own job instead of Janie’s but she always makes it work. Linda points out stuff on every x ray, helping me understand and read all of them.. At the end of my volunteering, she gave me a chance to explain what I thought was wrong, if anything, and then would explain whether she thought I was right or wrong. Then she would follow up with the doctors diagnosis to see if it matched ours. It was a lot of fun to play doctor with her.

It’s really interesting to see everyone’s x-rays and get to look their broken arm or hip replacement or rolled ankle. We saw lots of old people with hip replacement, athletes with thrown out shoulder, workers with blown out knees, and kids with broken arms. Everyone had there own story and it was fun to interact with patients that were cheerful and laughing. I also got to use my Spanish a little. Lots of our patients can’t speak English, so my small knowledge was actually useful. I refreshed myself on directions and body parts and I think I made things run a little smoother.

The coolest thing I saw was a man who told me that was a gangbanger and he was shot by a rival gang in the femur and it shattered his whole femur. When we first looked at the x-rays, I thought he had left something in his pocket, but then he informed me that the bullet was still inside his leg. He was on crutches and in a huge brace, but I was amazed that he could even get out of bed with a leg like that. He was a really funny and kept making jokes about getting shot because he was a no good gangbanger.

The saddest thing I saw was an 18 year old girl who tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of a semi truck and breaking almost every bone in her body. We x rayed her entire body and it was crazy to see everything out of place and shattered. We saw her for follow ups once a week until she died in surgery.

I love switching my volunteer hours around because I like seeing different sides of healthcare. I’m grateful for all of the experience I get and I can’t wait to receive my next assignment.


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