A new way of seeing with radiography

BCIT Tanveer Bains, Medical Radiography student
Medical Radiography student Tanveer Bains entered the BCIT program right after graduating from high school.

Tanveer Bains won’t forget the first time she operated an x-ray machine in real life.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” says Tanveer, a second-year student Medical Radiography at BCIT.

“I thought, ‘wow that’s actually that person’s bones’,” she recalls.

Her enthusiasm comes across clearly when she talks about the decision to study at BCIT, right after graduating from high school.

The 19-year-old wanted to combine her interest in evolving technologies with healthcare — and giving back to her community.

She found radiography ticked all these boxes, and more.

“I knew, in my career, that I wanted to do something in the medical field however I also really liked technology,” she explains.

“And I knew that medical imaging — like X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and all diagnostic imaging, they’re very patient-oriented and they’re also very technology-oriented.”

The 24-month, full-time program covers computed tomography (CT), and fluoroscopy, to interventional procedures and mammography, all of which use machines that produce x-rays.

Offered through BCIT School of Health Sciences (SoHS), the diploma program blends on-campus lectures and labs with distance learning.

It also includes three clinical experiences in two different hospital environments.

Tanveer is currently working in one of these hospital placements full-time —  and she’s doing it in the midst of a global pandemic. Like students everywhere, she’s had to navigate the many humps and hurdles of getting an education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a lot of online preparation about safety and how to handle precautions,” Tanveer says, describing the school’s response.

“Already we were trained on how to deal with isolation and airborne precautions but this time, they just really reinforced it because they knew the extreme condition that every hospital was in. So definitely we were well-prepared.”

Everyone was helpful, and she’s glad to be continuing her education and is on track to finish next August, in time to write her certification exam in September.

“Our instructors are incredible. I did not expect it. They’re there when you need them. They’re very knowledgeable,” she says. “Just their experience is very helpful.”

What is her program at BCIT like, compared to high school?

“As with many programs at BCIT, compared to high school the course workload was much heavier,” she says, describing jammed-packed days.

“Everything is correlated, so that’s helpful,” she adds. “But there’s a lot of new concepts to understand — especially the first semester.”

This means learning to think differently, or “Being able to look at an average body at different angles and different lights to visualize the bones inside of you.”

Now half-way through the radiography program herself, Tanveer has some good advice of her own to offer other prospective students — anyone who might be picturing a career in radiography.

“I would definitely tell future students that are interested in the program, that the profession is very versatile,” she says, adding it is much more than just taking the X-rays.

“It’s very patient-care oriented and ensuring our patient’s safety and ultimately, what is best for a diagnosis for the patient.”

Tanveer likens it to detective work.

“We are the first eyes to look over and analyze our radiographs, ‘evidence,’ and help aid in solving the mystery to ultimately help them with their recovery.”

SEE MORE: Think you know healthcare? These 8 programs will change your perspective

(Story written by Chantal Eustace)

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