Your job as a doctor is to figure out the big picture with as many of the pieces as your patients can give you. When they come to your office with symptoms, they’re giving you a few pieces to a puzzle. If the condition isn’t immediately obvious (or just needs to be confirmed), there are a number of tests to perform to get to the bottom of it and many of them require imaging.

As rural health clinic professionals, you most likely won’t be a specialist in any one area but will have general knowledge of all of them, making you more useful to your regionally isolated clients. With that being said, you may come across a wide variety of conditions and will probably have to perform one or more imaging tests to diagnose your patient. Here are a few of the tests that you’ll probably perform most often in your health clinic.


X-rays are an imaging test used to diagnose a variety of ailments. An X-ray may be used to monitor an existing condition or examine an area where there is discomfort. X-ray imaging can check for anything from tooth decay, bone cancer or growth, fractures, infections, digestive problems and more.Most x-rays don’t require any prior preparation and only take a few minutes.


MRIs, or magnetic resonance imaging, is similar to x-rays in that you get a clear picture of a patient’s organs and tissues. MRIs, however, use magnetic fields and radio waves. They take a little longer, between a few minutes and an hour depending on the reason for testing, but are painless and give a better-detailed image for doctors to work with. Doctors may ask for an MRI to look for tumors, clots, injuries, or other ailments in the tissue or organs.

CAT Scan

CT or CAT scans are a more advanced version of x-rays and can provide a more detailed cross-section image of the body, a slice of the problem area. Most commonly, these are performed on the spinal, brain, and pelvic areas as well as the abdomen, chest, and sinuses.


Ultrasound scans, or sonography, uses sound waves to captures images of the inside of the body. It’s mainly used to see tissues, organs, and vessels and uses no radiation, making it best for pregnant mothers to check-up on their little ones.

Any of these or maybe even a combination could be required to help diagnose your patient or rule out some possible ailments.