Meet Michigan Medicine: Department of Radiology

March 5, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Members of the Department of Radiology can be found almost everywhere you look at Michigan Medicine — from emergency departments to inpatient areas and ambulatory clinics.

“We don’t have our own designated building or clinic,” said Dana Habers, the department’s chief administrator. “But that just means that we have the ability to make an enormous impact on all aspects of the organization.”

Indeed, whether it’s working to benefit patients, education or research, here’s what you may not know about the department that creates a perfect picture of world-class care.

The turning point in care

Radiology comprises more than 1,300 individuals who work in locations across the organization. While the department includes 120 faculty members, the majority of radiology team members are ultrasound and imaging technicians, nurses, reading room coordinators and patient services associates.

They work 24/7 to carry out a variety of procedures that are integral to helping determine the most appropriate course of a patient’s treatment plan. Among those tests are CT scans, x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds and mammograms.

“Imaging tends to be the turning point in a patient’s care,” Habers said. “That’s because clinicians are able to get the clearest picture possible about what is ailing somebody and can then make the most educated decision on how to treat that ailment.”

Typically, a technician will perform a test on a patient, followed by a radiologist reading the resulting image (with the assistance of a reading room coordinator). Then, the radiologist will consult with a referring physician to help determine a plan of action for each individual patient.

“Radiologists are sometimes referred to as a ‘doctor’s doctor,’ specifically because they are often consulted by other physicians,” Habers said. “It’s a title many in our department wear with honor.”

Those known as general radiologists typically work in emergency departments and carry out a wide range of tasks. Others specialize in a specific type of test or ailment.

“We have cardiothoracic radiologists and radiologists who specialize in such things as musculoskeletal or abdominal issues,” Habers said. “We also have team members who are experts with pediatric patients. Many people don’t realize just how specialized radiology can be.”

Impacting work in the lab, classroom

In addition to playing a major role in patient care, radiology is also integral when it comes to carrying out research and education at Michigan Medicine.

“We’re currently doing a lot of research into the radioactive mediums used to inject patients before procedures,” Habers said. “We’re constantly trying to find safer, more effective ways to help people.”

The department also runs the Center for Molecular Imaging, which provides the research community with cutting-edge imaging instruments. In the classroom, the department hosts a large, nationally-acclaimed fellowship and residency program.

A vital piece to the puzzle

At every level, radiology puts an emphasis on service.

“Sometimes, our techs have more interaction with patients than anyone else during their visit to Michigan Medicine,” Habers said. “We constantly remind our employees of that and emphasize the importance of letting patients know how much we care and that we’re here to help them.”

The department also tracks turnaround times from the moment a test order is placed to the time results are communicated back to a physician.

“We know that the faster we carry out tests and get in touch with referring doctors, the faster patients can begin treatment,” Habers said. “However, we will never sacrifice accuracy for the sake of time.”

In the end, almost every patient and every employee will come into contact with a radiology team member during their time at Michigan Medicine.

“We’re a vital piece to most people’s health care puzzle,” Habers said. “It’s rewarding to have such a high impact across the organization.”

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