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How to Advance your Radiology Technician Career

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Radiologic technologists are the registered health care professionals who perform diagnostic imaging exams and administer radiation therapy treatments. The first step in an entry-level radiographer's career is the completion of a two- to four-year academic or hospital-based training program that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Once the radiographer meets the educational requirements are met, he or she can receive certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) by passing the AART's ethics and examination requirements.

Certification is then followed by annual registration with the AART, resulting in the Registered Technologist credential. The registered technologist must meet three criteria: continued compliance with the AART's rules and regulations, continued meeting of ethics standards, and completion of continuing education units as set forth in section six of the AART Continuing Education Requirements for Renewal of Registration.

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Career-Enhancing Procedures

There are a number of imaging exams/procedures that radiologic technologists can learn that will advance their careers. The primary procedure used by entry-level radiographers is the x-ray. This radiographic image or film, which reveals the inner recesses of the human body, is used to diagnose or rule out disease and injury.

Today's radiologic technologists may seek registration within a wide range of specialties for the following areas:

  • Computed Tomography (commonly referred to as a CT or CAT scan): Creates images of the inside of organs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (commonly known as an MRI): Detailed images of a patient's anatomy are obtained by exposure to a magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses.
  • Mammography: Diagnostic images of breast tissue using special x-ray equipment.
  • Bone Densitometry: Used to measure bone mineral density or total mineral content in patients who are undergoing treatment for osteoporosis.
  • Cardiovascular-Interventional Radiography: The use of fluoroscopy to guide a physician's tools (e.g. catheters, stents) through the human body without the use of open surgery.
  • Nuclear Medicine: The administration of radiopharmaceuticals to generate gamma rays. These rays are then caught by a special camera in order to create images of the body part in question.
  • Quality Management: Data collection, information analysis, and monitoring quality control in the radiology department.
  • Sonography: Ultrasound examination that converts sound waves into visual data.

Additionally, radiation oncology offers the following career specialties for the radiographer who wants to join a medical team responsible for treating cancer patients:

  • Radiation Therapy: The highly skilled administration of targeted doses of radiation to human tissue in order to shrink and destroy malignant tumors.
  • Medical Dosimetrists: The determination of what effective amount of radiation dosage may be delivered to a tumor site while ensuring that surrounding tissue will not be damaged.

Radiologist Assistants, Supervisors, and Teachers

With further education and experience, radiographers can become radiologist assistants and teachers. Radiologist assistants have a leading role in patient management and assessment. They advocate for quality patient care, perform selected examinations under the supervision of a staff radiologist, and sometimes conduct the initial evaluation of images before forwarding them to the radiologist for a final interpretation.

Radiologist Assistants (RA's) must be experienced and registered radiographers and have completed educational requirements at the baccalaureate level or higher through an accredited program. Only AART-certified radiographers will be accepted into an accredited RA educational program. Upon completion of the degree, the radiologist assistant earns AART certification and registration by passing the association's Registered Radiologist Assistant exam.

With experience, specialization, and advanced education the technologist may also advance to a supervisory position, such as chief technologist, department administrator or director. A master's degree in business or health administration may be required for a director's position.

Additionally, some radiographers go on to instruct and teach in a hospital-based setting or at a community college or university. Depending on the educational setting , teaching may require a master's or a bachelor's degree. However, all instructors are usually expected to have had at least two to three years of work experience as a registered technologist in the radiologic profession.

Article Resources:

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
American Society of Radiologic Technologists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Northern Virginia Community College
Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences, Inc.
Southern Union State Community College Radiography Program
Columbus State Community College
Pasco-Hernando Community College

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