This article is one from 15 different Papua New Guinean scienctists taken from the manuscript of the new Grade 9 Science Outcomes textbook prior to the design and editing processes currently being undertaken at Pearson Education Australia. This is Daphne’s story. I hope all the parents, teachers and students reading this enjoy it. More scientists’ stories will appear here during the next few months.
This photograph is of Daphne checking out her 16-slice GE brightspeed CT scanner at Port Moresby Private Specialist Medical Centre.
Hello, my name is Daphne Tanimia-William and I come from Tasitel village on Mussau Island, New Ireland province. I am a Radiographer. The Radiographer has got nothing to do with radios or graphing of radios. Rather, if you look up the word radiograph in the dictionary, it refers to an attained image using x-radiation. Therefore a Radiographer is a person who uses specific techniques to attain x-ray images. There are Industrial Radiographers as well as Medical Radiographers and I belong to the latter (Medical Radiographer). In many other countries, the Radiographer is also referred to as a Medical Radiation Technologist or Medical Imaging Technologist. To become a Radiographer, you need to understand Science and do well in physics and biology. A little chemistry is also essential.
The job of a radiographer is very important. We know that too much radiation can have harmful effects on human cells. And a Radiographer needs to know how to use the least amount of radiation for an optimal diagnositic image quality. When I completed year 12, I went to the Univeristy of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) to do a foundation year in science. As we approached the end of the year, we had to stream into a science field of choice, and because I enjoyed my physics, I decided to try out the course which was then a Diploma in Medical Imaging Science. At the end of 3 years, I graduated with a Diploma in Medical Imaging Science from the UPNG and went on to do a year of work at the Port Moresby General Hospital’s Radiology Unit. This was my residency year – the year where you work towards getting registered with the Medical Board of PNG. Towards the end of the year, I was awarded my registration; meaning I was now a licenced Radiography Practitioner in PNG.
My interest in this field had also grown and so I had applied for further studies and was granted a 3 year NZAID scholarship to pursue my Bachelor studies in New Zealand. During the 3 years that I stayed in NZ, one of the course requirements was to log a minimum of 3000 hours of clinical work. So I got attached to the main hospital in South Auckland (Middlemore Hospital) where I gained a vast experience of the different areas of Radiology. My job is not just about clicking a button to radiate a person so that an x-ray image can be made available to the treating physician. Rather I have to understand all the physics of radiation, pathological disease processes and have an indepth understanding of the human anatomy.
Apart from performing general x-ray examinations my job also involves performing special x-ray procedures such as intravenous urograms (study of the kidney function) and barium studies. With barium studies, Barium sulphate is used in different procedures to highlight the whole length of the digestive system. A special dye called contrast medium is also used in multiple other procedures to highlight tissues in the body so they can be clearly seen when x-rays are taken. There are other branches of the radiology unit such as Theatre Radiography, Cardiac Catheterization, Angiography and Computed Tomography and also other specialty fields in Radiology where you can continue to study and do Post-Graduate courses and become specialised in that particular field. These include Ultrasonography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nuclear Medicine and Mammography (specialised breast imaging).
My job is exciting because it is a field of study that has grown to become one of the fastest moving and changing technologies in medicine. It is also very challenging because I have to keep up with all the changes. In PNG, this area is quite lacking and since people have failed to appreciate the ever changing developments of Radiology, we tend to think of it only as x-rays and photographic film. The film era is drawing to an end now that computer technology is taking the place of films and chemicals. When I graduated with a Bachelor in Medical Imaging, I was also awarded registration with the New Zealand Medical Radiation Technologists Board (NZMRTB) giving me the opportnity to work in NZ or many other countries.
I am currently working at the Port Moresby Private Specialist Medical Centre in their newly built Radiology unit. My colleague and I operate a 16-slice GE brightspeed CT scanner; the first multisclice CT scanner in Papua New Guinea (see photograph). We also have a general x-ray unit which is fully computerized (computed radiography) – meaning NO films or chemicals. This technology is also the first of its kind in PNG. The medical centre has also set up a virtual private network with Cairns Diagnostic Imaging where we send our images (using fast speed internet) to be reported; this form of technology is referred to as Teleradiology.
I am hoping to specialise and pursue further studies in this field. My dream is to see the growth and development of the Medical Imaging industry in PNG. This can only happen when we have the human resources. We need human resources and this means you! The University of Papua New Guinea now offers a Bachelor of Medical Imaging Technology through the School Of Medicine And Health Sciences. I encourage you to join this profession and be a part of this change for the betterment of our nation.