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What is Medical Radiologic Technology?
Medical Radiologic Technology is the area of study and employment that deals with the imaging of the human body for the purposes of medical treatment. Individuals in this field may use a variety of methods and techniques to obtain the optimal imaging of a patient, often varying the methodology used based on a patients suspected condition and the quality of their health. Due to the radiation a produced by the machines and substances used in this profession, it is important to note that individuals are tasked with increased safety precautions for both themselves and the patient.
What Is a Radiology Technician?
A radiology technician or RT is the medical expert used to help produce quality x-ray images. RT’s will be responsible for preparing the patient and maintaining x-ray equipment. Preparing patients for a procedure may include providing emotional comfort, education, and/or physical accommodations in the room. Properly maintaining the x-ray equipment includes regular maintenance and diagnostic work to ensure it is properly calibrated and functioning properly in all conditions.
It is required a radiology technician earn an associate degree or bachelor degree. The type of degree requisite to work in a hospital or medical setting is established by your state and employer. Make sure to understand the necessary qualifications and requirements in your state to become a radiology technician prior to matriculation. While a bachelor’s degree may not be required by all employers, it can lead to advanced career opportunities and additional job responsibilities.
What is the Difference Between a Radiology Technician and Radiological Technologist?
Although the job titles are similar, a radiology tech is not the same position as a radiologic technologist. Both jobs require professionals to accurately record patient information, schedule work for their department, and manage equipment in their department. In addition to the job responsibilities of a radiology tech, a radiologic technologist, will specialize is one or more areas in the medical field. Options may include one or more of the following areas of specialty: MRI scans, CT scans, bone density scans, fluoroscopes, and mammography.
Individuals seeking a career in medical radiologic technology may pursue studies at the associate or bachelor degree level, or through a certificate program. Most individuals seek education at the associate level, which takes approximately two years to complete. A bachelor's degree program will cover a wider range of methods and techniques, allowing for greater flexibility in duties, functions, tasks and employment options.
Courses may include:
- Radiation Physics
- Patient Care
- Imaging and Diagnosis
What are the Types of Radiology Degrees?
The types of degrees in radiology encompass all types of degrees and certificates from associate degrees through doctorate degrees. Depending on your state of residence and their requirements, earning a degree may be followed by a licensure examination from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). A summary of each type of degree program is listed below to further your research in the field of radiology and degree options to help you navigate vocational options ahead.
Professional Certificates in Radiology
A certificate in radiology is crafted to help students and working professional gain additional knowledge in particular areas of radiology. Certificates may include specialty programs in Ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI scans. A certificate in radiology can be viewed by practitioners and employers as a viable alternative to earning an additional degree in radiology. By providing specific training in a concentrated area, radiology professional can upskill quickly with less cost than a full-fledged degree program. Certificate programs will often last 6 months to 12 months depending on the program and courses taken at a given time.
Associate Degree in Radiology
The associate degree in radiologic technology is the requisite degree to work in most hospitals or healthcare organizations. The associate degree programs in radiology technology are typically two-year programs albeit online or in class. The 3 primary types of associate degree programs in radiology include the Radiology Tech Associate degree, Online Associate Degree, and Associate degree in Radiography. You may find slight variations in program names or nomenclature of the associate degree programs in radiology yet all lead to similar entry-level positions in radiology technology. Make sure the college degree program you select is an accredited, state-approved college or university. Accredited radiology tech programs are required to become eligible for state certification and/or state licensure.
Bachelor Degree in Radiology
A bachelor degree in radiology may not be required by employers in your area to qualify for entry-level positions but is a viable degree providing ample career opportunities in the field. The three most popular bachelor degree programs in radiology include the Bachelor of Science in Radiology, Bachelor of Radiologic Technology, and Bachelor of Applied Science in Radiology. In either case, accredited colleges and universities will offer an array of science-rich courses such as radiation, patient care, anatomy, healthcare ethics, pathology, and biology.
Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs in radiology will take 4-years of full-time work to complete for direct entry programs and around two-years for students who have already earned an associate’s degree in radiology.
Master Degree in Radiology
If you are seeking an advanced degree in radiologic science, a master’s degree may be a viable option to help advance your career. Master’s degree programs in radiology was created for radiology professionals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree with a desire to advance learning in research and biomedical imaging. The master’s program in radiology is a 1-2 year program of full time matriculation and can overlap with programs in forensic science, environmental biology, public health, healthcare informatics, and healthcare administration.
Doctorate Degree in Radiology
Students earning a doctorate degree in radiology earn a PhD that typically focus on research and academics to advance radiological sciences. Areas of specialty include radiological physics, neural imaging, radiation therapy, veterinary medicine, diagnostic radiology, radiation biology, interventional radiology, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine.
Specialty Fields in Radiology
Much like other medical jobs, you can specialize in radiology in a number of different arenas. The most common areas of specialization include radiology technology, diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine, interventional radiology, and radiation therapy. A brief description of each is listed below to help you better understand the areas of concentration within radiology.
Radiology Technology & LMR
Radiology techs earning an associate degree or bachelor degree will most often find themselves working in a hospital, urgent care center, clinics, medical institutions, or physicians’ offices performing a range of tasks that include radiographic specialties like: trauma, surgical, mobile services, pediatric, nuclear medicine, computed tomography, sonography, radiation therapy, ultrasound, MRI and fluoroscopy. A LMR or Limited Medical Radiography certificate or degree are students prepared to conduct x-rays, maintain equipment, and educate patients on medical procedures.
A diagnostic radiologist is a medical professional will spend time examining patients, understanding medical history, diagnosing an illness, and providing treatments. There is an array of subspecialties within the broad-based category of diagnostic radiology which include: nuclear radiology, chest radiology, emergency radiology, MRI technician, radiation oncology, interventional radiology, pediatric radiology, neuroradiology, head and neck radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, genitourinary radiology, x-ray technician, breast imaging, and cardiovascular radiology.
A nuclear medicine specialist will utilize radiopharmaceuticals to both treat and diagnose a disease. This specialty of radiology uses a variety of techniques such as scintigraphy to produce images of a patient’s organs or to help understand a variety of diseases in the body. The radiopharmaceuticals are either ingested by the patient or injected into a vein to allow the radiologist a view into the human body.
Interventional Radiology or IR is a radiology specialty focused on minimally invasive treatments leveraging radiological images. IR approach has grown significantly in recent years as there are fewer risks involved for the patient, quicker recovery periods, and are far less invasive than treatments that require surgery. Interventional Radiologists are board certified and fellowship trained physicians with extensive training charged with applying minimally invasive radiological solutions for patients.
A Radiation Therapy includes a variety of specialists that work with a patient to administer radiation treatment(s) under the physician’s purview. These specialists include dosimetrist, radiation therapist, radiation oncologist, therapeutic medical physicist, and radiation oncologist nurse.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment is typically pursued available through hospitals, clinics, laboratories, care centers, and private offices. Due to the necessity of imaging in its variety of forms, employment is generally available and can be sought at multiple locations. Individuals may work extensive hours on their feet and may have a large number of tests and patients to deal with in a given day. As a result individuals that can demonstrate stamina and excellent patient communication are favored for employment. As noted above, individuals in this field should be prepared to take precautions in order to ensure their safety when while working, including the use of badges that gauge radiation levels.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth is expected to increase over the next decade as the need for more professionals to perform imaging and testing due to the aging population. In fact, the BLS estimates some 20,700 radiology tech jobs will be created in the coming decade. Newer and cheaper technologies will also allow for more individuals in offices and outpatient centers, creating more employment opportunities. The average salary is $58,960 per year for a medical radiologic technologist, varying based on location, experience and education.
Individuals interested in medical radiologic technology may also be interested in cardiovascular technology, ultrasound technician or magnetic resonance imaging.
The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) provides individuals with resources for the advancement of the radiologic technology field, including publications and information regarding advancements in technologies and techniques to improve treatment and imaging procedures and provide career and continuing education assistance.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) provides certification examinations that allows individuals to demonstrate the extent of their skills in a professional setting. The organization was founded in 1922 and has worked to advance the field through recognition of ability since its establishment.