Radiologic technologists work in the field of diagnostic medicine. They are trained to operate imaging equipment and may perform X-rays, ct scans or MRI’s. They have an important role in a patients care that requires precise execution of a doctors orders. Getting the proper angles of a bone or using the proper contrast to show an organ is vital to taking images that can be successfully used for diagnosis. With an aging population comes increased health care needs and this leads the creation of many new jobs in the industry. The demand for newly certified radiology techs is expected to rise along with most other careers in the medical industry.
There are numerous types of imaging that a radiological tech can perform. Taking x-rays of bones is just one of the diagnostic procedures that are done. When taking X-rays it is vital that the patient be positioned properly so that not only the correct bone is captured, but the exact angle of the bone as ordered by the physician.
Computed tomography, more commonly known as a CT scan, is another procedure that is performed. CT scans involve injecting a radioactive solution into a patients vein. Special equipment is then able to take detailed images by capturing images of the radioactive ingredients. These scans allow detailed images of organs to be taken.
Magnetic resonance imaging, also know as an MRI, uses magnetic waves to capture images of organs and body tissues. During an MRI a patient must remain immobile inside of the machine for an extended period of time, not only must the tech operate the equipment but also communicate to the patient what is expected of them during the procedure. Some of the important aspects of this job are:
- Operating and maintaining imaging equipment
- Working with patients to produce the highest quality images. This includes maneuvering patients to get proper angles.
- Insuring the safety of patients as well as themselves and coworkers, by employing protective shielding when appropriate
- Execute doctors orders with precision so that the proper parts of the body are imaged
- Maintaining records of procedures as well as taking and updating patients accounts
The majority of radiology techs can be found working in hospitals, though they may also be employed in a physicians office, diagnostic laboratory, or health clinic. Like other medical professionals that work directly with patients, there is the risk of exposure to infection disease.
Another potential hazard is the fact that the diagnostic procedures often involve the use of radiation. Over exposure to X-rays or radioactive contrast used in ct scans can have long term effects on the health of the technician. Numerous safeguards are used to limit exposure and if all procedures are followed, the risks are minimized.
Radiology techs can expect to spend a good part of their work day standing and walking around. It may also be necessary to help patients into position so as to take the proper images. It can be physically demanding and may present a problem for someone who has chronic pain or back problems.
Like other medical professions, there is a need for around the clock staffing. In hospitals it is common for diagnostic evaluation to be performed in emergency situations, therefore a radiology tech must be present at all times. Due to the fact that constant staffing is needed, work schedules can include overnight shifts as well as weekends.
Education And Licensing:
There are several educational pathways that can be taken to become a radiological technician, certification programs and degree programs are both available. Certification programs are usually 12 months long. There is also the option of a degree program. Many schools offer 2 year associates and 4 year bachelors degrees in radiological technology. Training programs will include both classroom instruction and hands on training. Courses are heavily focused on math and sciences.
Technicians will usually have one or more specialties that they focus on. These can include X-rays, CT scans, mammography, or MRI’s. Certification in each of these disciplines is possible, Having multiple certifications greatly improves the chances of finding employment.
The majority of states require radiologic technicians to have certification or be licensed. Every state has specific requirements, the state they are working in will determine what the requirements will be. Most states will require successful completion of an accredited training program as well as a passing grade on a certification exam.
Because of the technological nature of diagnostic radiology, there are continual advancements that are made leading to refinement of existing procedures and equipment. With this advance in knowledge also come new procedures and new equipment. This is why is is necessary for radiology techs to have ongoing education. This is required to stay certified.
Who Should Become A Radiology Tech?:
In order to excel as a radiology tech, one must be able to balance to two main aspects of this job. One side is technical and involves the operation of advanced equipment. The other aspect is the human side, effective communication and understanding are essential for taking the highest quality images while providing the highest level of care with minimal discomfort.
Having a strong analytical mind is of extreme importance for this profession. Not only will this be needed for the safe and successful operation of diagnostic equipment, but also will be needed to determine proper dosages of chemicals needed for certain procedures. Instructions from physicians must be carried out in exact detail in order to get the exact image that is needed. Someone who is meticulous in following directions will perform best in this situation.
Developing good communication skills is important. Not only will this help in getting the cooperation of patients so that high quality image can be taken, but can also be important to ease any stress or fears that a patient may be experiencing. Explaining a procedure to a frightened person can help dispel any fears that may stem from misinformation or lack of knowledge.
Factors That Can Influence Salary:
According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual radiology technician salary is $56,760. The lowest 10 percent of reported incomes was averaged at $37,570 while the top 10 percent of earners took home an estimated $78,440. The state with the highest average salary is California with an annual mean salary of $72,030.
As with most careers, location, experience and employer will be the biggest determining factors as to what a potential radiology tech salary will be. Other things that can affect the salary of a radiology tech is certification. Having multiple certifications in numerous specialties can be reflected in higher salaries.
Because of the similar prerequisites needed for a degree in this field, it would require minimal additional schooling for a radiology tech to complete a degree in nursing, surgical technology or numerous other health care related professions. There is also the option of studying to be a physicians assistant or medical doctor as the medical background of radiology technology would provide a strong foundation for these careers.
Job growth for radiology technicians is projected to be around 21% from 2012 -2022. This growth is above the average expected growth for the rest of the economy and presents a great opportunity for someone looking for stable career. As the population ages, there will be a greater need for diagnostic imaging and therefore a greater need for certified radiology technicians. The majority of current jobs are found in hospitals, with radiology labs and physicians offices making up a smaller percentage. This is expected to change in the coming years as more care is shifted to outpatient services.