Dr. Rae D. Atian likes to start her day with her ladies and their babies. Mammograms and ultrasounds are fast and easy, and patients are usually pretty good about keeping their appointments, so she likes to schedule those early in the day.
By 10:00AM, she's already delivered lots of good news: using early detection, she's been able to confirm that a patient's scary-looking dark spot wasn't a tumor; and the dark spot she found in her next patient's ultrasound shows the first signs of a healthy new life.
Some of Rae's friends accuse her of being a robot, but she just loves science, technology, and researching—though she can be rather machine-like when she really gets into her groove. Once she logs into the PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) in the morning, she can quickly lose track of time for the rest of the day.
After entering data from the morning appointments, she pulls up the results from the CT scans and MRI tests she administered at the end of the day yesterday.
The first was an X-ray followed up by a CT scan of a young woman's lungs. Rae reviews the doctor's notes: "Patient with persistent cough, non-smoker, no cold or flu symptoms. Family history of lung cancer."
The X-ray is a little alarming. On the upper right lung there's a smoggy cloud, blurry and nebulous. She looks for another image that might corroborate an unfortunate diagnosis—it seems to be a classic display of an avian infection.
Rae writes up her notes and emails her findings to the doctor in charge of the patient. She doesn't have to think twice: antibiotics, return for a follow-up X-ray in two weeks, everything should be clear. She'll need an additional follow-up to check for scarring, though.
That entire process takes all of ten minutes, and Rae gets to do it from the calm quiet of her office. When she was working at the hospital, things were a little more intense. She was working at a computer terminal on the ER floor, and the extreme pace meant she had to make snap decisions—sometimes with, at best, vague or badly-positioned images.
There were blurry areas and too many "artifacts" (dust and other particles distracting from a clear image). Suffice to say, things are much better at the suburban clinic Rae works at now.
She pulls up the next case. Zooming in on a magnified CT scan, she thinks she might see air in the patient's bowels. She skips to the next shot, which makes the spot look like it might be appendicitis instead. She checks the notes—nope, appendix removed. So what is it?
She can't ask the patient for more scans, so she draws up a series of suggestions for the attending physician—blood work, more interviewing, maybe prescribe some Gas-X.
Rae feels her stomach rumble and realizes she needs to heed the signals her own body is giving off. She heads out of the clinic and down to the street for a quick meal.
Back at the clinic, her afternoon starts with a whirlwind of questions. A surgeon needs information on a blocked bowel—should the object be surgically removed or allowed to naturally evict itself? A neurologist needs to see inside the head of a patient who fell off a ladder—is the brain bleeding? How badly, and from where specifically?
Rae's next scheduled case is at 2:00PM. She scrubs in, positions the patient for imaging, and scrubs back out again. After reviewing the test results—there appears to be a dark spot on the patient's right ventricle—she suggests that the surgeon inserts a life-saving material into the patient's heart.
It'd be a risky procedure, to be sure, but it's Rae's professional opinion that it'd be the best solution. The surgeon will have the final call, though.
The workday finally over, Rae heads home to relax with her TV and some takeout food. Well, she does that for a while, anyway, but after a few Grey's Anatomy episodes she shuts off the tube and turns to her books—she needs to keep up with new developments in medical technology. Plus, she swears she can feel the rays pulsing out of the TV, and she spends enough time with those at the clinic.