I’m currently working on an IR 101 course for new IR techs. I’ve had to go back to look at a lot of things I haven’t thought about in a long time. But what is the most important part of performing a case? Is it the knowledge? The skills? What is it?
Knowledge of the case is important. The anatomy, the equipment, and the monitoring of the patient are all important. The tech must know the disease process, and how the procedure will affect the patient and their diagnosis. We must be able to watch the patient and ensure their safety. We must know what the physician wants, and how to use each piece of equipment. But knowledge is not the most important part of the procedure.
Skills are also important. A tech must have “muscle memory” of the most common equipment, and be able to manipulate catheters and wires without thinking. We must also know what the physician will use to treat the disease. We must be an extension of their hands…and their minds. In time, we should be able to anticipate the doctor’s needs, and perform the action before he asks for it. But skills are not the most important part of the procedure.
Regardless of the procedure, whether you are in the cath lab, the EP lab or the IR lab, the most important thing to remember is to keep your head in the game. Pay attention. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by things going on around you. Paying close attention to each case you are in allows you to see the similarities between different modalities. It allows you to move from cath to EP to IR seamlessly, even when you have little experience in those modalities. It will also allow you to work with any physician anywhere…even the first time with a doctor who is extremely particular. But most importantly, paying close attention will allow you to be ready to react to any situation that arises. Even the most intense emergency situations.
So, while skills and knowledge are vital, the most important thing you can do during a case is to PAY ATTENTION! Keep your head in the game.