Papama is a diagnostic radiographer who specializes in using medical imaging technology like X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasound, to produce high-quality images of the body’s internal structures which can be used to diagnose and treat various medical conditions;
Hello Papama, thank you for joining us today. I am eager to learn about your work as a diagnostic radiographer
Hi Winnie, I am happy to share my journey and inspire the next generation. Thank you for inviting me.
Briefly introduce yourself to our audience
My name is Papama Lose. I am originally from Ngqamakwe, a small town in Eastern Cape, but currently based in Ladysmith, KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. I currently work at THINK as the diagnostic radiographer for Amajuba/uThukela districts.
If I may confidently ask on behalf of many people, what does a diagnostic radiographer do?
To put it in the most basic way, I am primarily responsible for operating X-ray equipment to produce high-quality diagnostic images that assist in the diagnosis of various patient conditions.
On a typical day, the driver nurse and I journey to a pre-booked facility where we set up our station at a designated area. We inform the facility of our presence and they allow us to address their patients. We give a brief introduction about TB and why it’s important to test.
The clients then visit us at our station where we screen them for symptoms and I take x-ray images.
What inspired you to join the health sector as a diagnostic radiographer?
My journey as a health worker started when I was still in the junior phase at school and my sister got sick. I was at my mother’s side as we went from clinic to clinic, to this doctor and the other all without a diagnosis until one doctor referred her to a nearby hospital x-ray department for a scan. At that time, I had never seen anything like that but one thing I remember is that when we left that department, we knew what was wrong with my sister and from there she would be treated.
Two years ago, I came across a post advertised by THINK for a radiographer. I was interested so I read the details and requirements and such and I qualified. However, before applying, I did a bit of research about THINK and the kind of work they do. I was even more interested when I saw the difference THINK makes in people’s lives. I wanted to be on this team and I was fortunate enough to be the successful candidate.
What has been your most challenging moment as a diagnostic radiographer?
At the beginning of the project at THINK there was a shortage of staff because the project was still new. Finding suitable candidates for such projects is important and takes time. So, while the process was still ongoing, I had to take on more responsibilities and at times they were outside of my profession.
As a THINKer, how did you navigate these challenges and still provide the services required of you?
I was able to get through these challenges by building personal relationships with staff members of the facilities we support. I explained to them the challenges we were facing as an organization. As a diagnostic radiographer at that time, I informed them of where I would like assistance and how. Fortunately, they were willing to help. I have since nurtured these relationships.
What would you like to teach our audience about infectious diseases like HIV and TB in Africa?
Firstly, there is no reason for anyone to be scared of testing for TB and HIV, none! Stigma should be the least of anyone’s concerns when they are feeling unwell. Your health should be your priority.
TB can be cured. The many hundreds of thousands of people that are dying from TB do not have to die. Organizations like THINK are here to make sure of that.
What is your most prestigious moment at THINK?
Receiving the manager’s award for consistent performance/hard work. That was a wonderful moment and the appreciation makes me want to do more.
Who are you outside of THINK walls and your diagnostic radiographer duties?
I am a mother, a loving and respectful daughter, and the world’s greatest sibling. My other happy places are outdoors-picnics, hikes and anywhere I can find good food. I am always looking for a new location to try out, a new dish to taste, and a new friend to make.
What is your favorite quote?
It sounds better in my native language, Xhosa, “okwenzelwe wena kuzofika kuwe, kuzofika ngelona xesha likulungeleyo. Themba uhambo lomhlaba.” In English, it says, “Whatever is meant for me will reach me. It will reach me at the most perfect time. Trust the process.”
What piece of advice would you give a young African girl who wants to become a diagnostic radiographer?
There are things that are not taught in school, those are the moments that make or break you. It lies solely on you and what your take home is from those moments. Assist one client thoroughly rather than ten clients halfway. That will make the most difference in your patients’ lives.
Wow! Thank you, Papama! Personally, I have learned something today about another career in the health sector. I am sure more people will be inspired to learn more about how to become a diagnostic radiographer.