RADIOLOGIST FEATURE

Dr. Brenda Farnquist became a radiologist to serve and truly help people.

When you spend your day helping the rest of the world, it’s crucial to start it off right, which includes being good to your body and centering your mind. Easier said than done for a lot of people, but Dr. Brenda Farnquist understands the importance of a solid routine to keep the delicate balance of her work and personal life. Her typical workday usually look something like the following:

I get up at 5am, listen to the news and go for a 45-minute to 1-hour run. It’s my “me time”. I have to leave for the hospital by 7am, so there are lots of days I don’t get to see my daughter.

Once I get to the hospital, the long day begins. I read screening mammography so I do that as well for 1.5 hours. I do CT-guided procedures, ultrasound and MRI-guided breast biopsies of which I’m only one of two that does them in Kelowna.

Some days I’m home at 5:30 and eat quickly so that I can spend time with my daughter. Other days I don’t get home until 7:30, eat even quicker, and then head back to work to finish my day. I’ll read between 8pm – 11pm at night during which time I cover MRI and CT scans.

Dr. Brenda is also often on call, which means the only hour of steady sleep she can count on is between 11pm – 12pm at night. After that, every minute is precious. As are the moments with her family. Even if she’s home by 5:30 or 6pm, the calls still come in.

We try to have a day off or schedule an “easier shift” after being on call. We’ll still read about 200 x-rays and 60-70 ultrasounds.

Dr. Brenda graduated at 17, got her first job as a lab tech and then cross-trained into x-ray. She went back to school for a Bachelor’s in Med Lab Science, studied at Harvard and got into UBC medical school at 31. In all, Dr. Brenda went to school for 15 years. Especially for women in the field — she’s one of five females in the radiology department of 14 —  that can mean making hard choices about when and if to have a family. It’s inevitable that something will have to make more space for the other. While Dr. Brenda admits they’re paid “fairly” for what they do, that’s only once they’ve made it. During residency, radiologists can be spread so thin they’re essentially making $1.75/hour.

We go into it for the community and to serve. To help people — and we do.

People can go into business and make as much or more, but radiologists are in it to serve a higher purpose.

Projects close to Dr. Brenda’s heart including helping Interior Health set up a pain center to standardize the way pain procedures are done, and she is currently advocating for upgrades to the radiology department. Kelowna does a lot of higher-level imaging, so their department will see a lot of the tougher cases out there — yet they have the oldest MRI in the province. Dr. Brenda and her colleagues are hoping to change that.

Everyone can make a difference. Contact your local MLA to spread awareness and discuss the urgent need for improved medical imaging equipment. Imaging saves lives, and your voice helps.