Radiology technologists, or radiographers, are members of the healthcare team who are trained in performing diagnostic imaging procedures under the supervision of a physician. They have undergone proper training to develop the skills they need in preparing and operating radiographic equipments. They produce clear images of internal body parts that will provide physicians the information they need to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Radiology technologists who have undergone training and certification also have the option to specialize in complex imaging procedures such as computerized tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, bone densitometry, and mammography.
One of the major responsibilities of radiology technologists is to enforce safety precautions for to protect themselves, the patient and health care staff against overexposure to radio waves. This is why it is important for them to be proficient in setting up and operating the radiology equipments. Their other duties include correctly positioning the patients and the equipment at a right angle before beginning the procedure. They also determine the correct equipment settings, which is dependent on the area of the body that needs to be x-rayed. Radiographers must also thoroughly explain the process to their patients and they must ensure that patients are free of jewelry and other devices that may pose harmful effects to the body or that may distort the images produced. In addition to their clinical responsibilities, radiographers also keep the patient records updated and in order. They can also be tasked to organize the scheduling, purchase equipment and supervise a radiology department.
Becoming a radiology technologist involves formal education and training from hospitals, vocational schools, two-year colleges or from four-year universities. After graduating from an accredited radiology school, radiographers are eligible to take the ARRT (American Registry of Radiology Technologists) examination. In most states, radiographers are required to have a license in order to practice professionally.
The length of training may range from one year to 4 years, depending on what type of degree is being pursued. A two-year college offers an Associate’s degree while a four-year university offers a Bachelor’s degree. Vocational schools which offer one year training award a certificate or a diploma. Most commonly, individuals attend a two-year radiology program with classroom and clinical instruction at a community college. The one-year radiology certificate is mostly obtained by those who are already in the medical field such as registered nurses who also want to be radiology technologists.
Future radiology technologists also have the option to get their training and education from an online radiology program. Online programs are very common these days as more people would prefer to work and at the same time earn their degrees. Some online programs offer diplomas and certificates to healthcare professionals without having to fulfill offline training. However, two-year and four-year programs will require students to attend a specific number of clinical hours in affiliated hospitals, health care facilities or diagnostic laboratories. Before enrolling into an online program, it is important to make sure that the program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT).