Virtual Conference: The Role of the Radiographer in a Pandemic
How has the role of a radiographer changed in the past two years of living through the pandemic? This was the subject of recent virtual conference to mark World Radiography Day.
The next time your dentist orders an x-ray for your tooth pain, remember that you owe it all to Wilhelm Roentgen, a German scientist who won the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for his serendipitous discovery of x-rays. World Radiography Day (WRD) marks the anniversary of Roentgen’s discovery in 1895 and is observed annually on 8 November.
To commemorate the anniversary, the SIT Diagnostic Radiography and Radiation Therapy Student Management Committee (DRRT SMC) organised a virtual conference via Zoom on 5 November in collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), Hong Kong Radiographers’ Association, Student Ambassador of Radiography (SAR), and the Singapore Society of Radiographers Student Chapter (SSRSC).
First Collaboration Between Singapore and Hong Kong
The maiden collaboration between Singapore and Hong Kong’s professional and student societies was a success. Joining the virtual meeting were a total of 272 radiographers, radiation therapists, and students from Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Portugal.
Julian Leung, President, SAR, introducing the various delicacies found in various “cha chaan teng” in Hong Kong.
At the launch of the pre-event, Julian Leung, President of SAR, broke the ice with a sharing on Hong Kong’s culture and his experiences as a PolyU student. His presentation about the mouth-watering delicacies served at Hong Kong’s famed tea houses triggered everyone’s wanderlust!
A Tough Year for Healthcare Workers
In his opening address, Guest-of-Honour, Dr Napapong Pongnapang, Vice-President, International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists said,
“This is a very unique year, because it has almost been two years since the outbreak of the pandemic. It has been a tough time for those in healthcare.”
Mr Liang Chongri, Senior Principal Radiographer, National University Singapore, sharing the measures taken to prevent cross infection within the department.
Mr Liang Chongri, a senior principal radiographer from National University Hospital Singapore, shared about the difficulties navigating through the pandemic in his talk on “Impact of Pandemic on Radiography Workforce and Service Provision”. As a healthcare worker in the radiography department, they had faced challenges at the start of the pandemic due to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
To adapt, they implemented measures such as education for staff on the proper usage of PPE, increasing social distancing measures, and administrative measures such as splitting department into teams to curb the spread of Covid-19. He highlighted the importance of communication within and between departments and how the hospital leveraged technologies such as Zoom, Whatsapp, and Tiger Text.
Mental health issues and well-being also took centrestage because additional restrictions in the workplace and general fear about catching the virus become work stressors for radiographers.
Ms Tan Chek Wee, senior lecturer from the Singapore Institute of Technology, discussing additional measures taken at Radiotherapy Centres.
Ms Tan Chek Wee, a senior lecturer at SIT who is also a Principal Radiation Therapist in the National Cancer Institute Singapore shared that aside from social distancing measures within the department, they implemented evidence-based radiotherapy protocol changes such as reducing the number of treatments for patients. This helped reduce the number of times patients had to visit the radiotherapy centre.
In her presentation on “Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Radiation Therapy”, she said that patients undergoing therapy for cancer are at a higher risk of requiring ventilator support should they get infected with Covid-19. Therefore, the risks and benefits had to be considered carefully before continuing treatment. She said,
“Delaying radiotherapy treatment of cancer patients can be detrimental to the patient, thus an effective and continuous radiotherapy service should be maintained especially for patients who have fast growing diseases or have already started their radiotherapy treatment” said Ms Tan.
Mr Edward Wong, Senior Clinical Associate, Hong Kong PolyU, spoke about leveraging the use of PACS during the pandemic.
Speaker Mr Edward Wong, senior clinical associate at Hong Kong Polytechnic University gave a valuable presentation on the “Radiographers’ Role of PACS administration in Hong Kong”. He talked about how the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) has improved the healthcare system. PACS is a system used by hospitals in Hong Kong to archive and share medical images with different departments and hospitals. It was especially important as they transitioned to a wireless system in hospitals because it allowed a patient’s scan to be readily accessible in different hospitals in Hong Kong.
Before the event came to an end, Dr Vincent Leung, Clinical Associate, Hong Kong Polytechnic University offered these closing remarks:
“Radiologists should celebrate our achievements as professionals because we have managed to continue providing excellent essential services in both Singapore and Hong Kong despite the pandemic. Second, we must commit to working ahead by implementing what we have learnt to improve the quality of healthcare services. Finally, we must continue our collaboration with international partners in order to enhance our professional development during the pandemic and beyond.”
We wish all radiographers, radiation therapists, and students a happy World Radiography Day!
News reporting contributed by Tan Han Min, Year 4 Radiation Therapy, President, SSRSC and Chloe Theresia Ng, Year 4 Diagnostic Radiography, Vice-President, SSRSC.