Radiologic Technologist and Technician

Radiologic technologists operate x-ray machines and place nonradioactive products into an individual's blood to conduct diagnostic tests.

These specialists, commonly known as radiographers, take x-rays, so doctors can diagnose health problems. These specialists are responsible to get patients ready for x-ray tests and placing the patient in the necessary position to accurately take x-rays. They are also responsible for protecting patients from radiation expose by placing lead shields around them and decreasing the amount of radiation used during an x-ray. To accurately take an x-ray, radiographers must place the technology in the appropriate position, usually determined by a patient's height. They then make the necessary measurements, so the x-ray taken provides the necessary detail for proper diagnosis. Following the necessary preparations, radiographers insert an x-ray film in the appropriate location, the x-ray is taken, and then it is developed.

Since radiation is used to perform x-rays, radiologic technologists must take proper precautions to protect the health of other people around them and themselves. They also must follow doctor instructions precisely.

In conjunction with their equipment operation responsibilities, radiologic technologists maintain medical records. Many are responsible to supervise radiology divisions, review recently purchased devices, and develop schedules for staff members.

Radiographers with years of experience conduct more complicated x-rays. One advanced x-ray procedure is known as a fluoroscopie. During this procedure, radiographers give patients a solution to ingest which permits a radiologist to examine soft tissues.

Certain radiographers, known as CT technologists, become trained to operate computed tomography (CT). Computed tomography produces CT scans which create x-rays that show 3 dimensional images inside the body. Since radiation technology is utilized to create these images, it is necessary to follow the same safety procedures as with other x-ray technology.

Many Radiographers become trained to operate magnetic resonance imaging technology. These specialists are known as MR technologists. Magnetic resonance technology also permits radiographers to take 3 dimensional pictures inside of the body. However, to take these pictures, non-ionizing technology is utilized.

Many radiographers become trained in mammography. These specialists take breast x-rays to check for breast cancer.

Other areas of radiographer specialties include: sonographing, cardiovascular, and nuclear medicine.

Work environment. Radiographers should be healthy since they stand most the day and often are required to lift incapacitated patients. Radiographers usually work next to x-ray technology, but frequently use mobile equipment to take x-rays of patients bedridden. Many spend a lot of time on the road traveling in vans equipped with x-ray technology.

Because of advances in radiation protection clothing, radiographers are usually not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Radiographers carry sophisticated radiation technology to monitor radiation levels. These measured levels are then recorded, so they know exactly how much radiation they are exposed to during their lives.

Radiographers usually spend 40 hours a week working. However, they are frequently required to work nights, weekends, and remain available to perform an x-ray any time of the day. They can usually decide to work part time hours or select a specific shift.

Education and Training

Many training options exist for people interested in radiologic technology. Training requirements differ by state, but these specialists are required to complete professional licensure in most states.

Professional certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees are available in radiography. Most radiologic technologists and technicians earn associate’s degrees. Some radiologic specialists complete professional certificate programs that take about 2 years to complete.

Formal radiography training program accreditation is conducted by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. This organization has recognized 213 professional certificate programs, 397 associate’s degree programs, and 35 bachelor’s degree programs. Students enrolled in these programs complete courses in physiology, anatomy, radiation physics and protection, medical terminology, medical ethics, pathology, radiobiology, and patient care procedures.

Job Outlook

Job growth in this field is expected to increase at an above average rate. Those specializing in multiple diagnostic imaging tests, whether it’s mammography, MR, or CT, enjoy better job opportunities.

Job growth for radiologic technologists is estimated to grow by 17 percent through 2018, a better than average rate compared to other industries. Increasing elderly populations is increasing the need for qualified radiologic imaging specialists. Older people are diagnosed with more disease and get injured easier, which results in increased need for diagnostic imaging testing. Diagnostic imaging technology is also utilized to monitor progress of medical procedures. Since technology has proven to be effective when diagnosing and treating disease, radiologic technology will be utilized more often for diagnostic and medical procedures.

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