Medical tests can be stressful times for patients, as the test results can help set the course for the treatment of an illness or provide assurance that everything is okay. Radiologic technologists are an essential part of that testing process. A career in this role can be rewarding for people who are looking to help others.
Here is more information about how to become a radiologic technologist:
What is A Radiologic Technologist?
“Radiologic technologists work with other healthcare professionals to produce static or dynamic images of anatomy,” said Becky Sellers Herzing University Program Chair in Radiography.
Physicians will order radiology exams for patients based on symptoms, diagnostic tests (such as labs, ECGs) and patient history to confirm their suspected diagnosis, Sellers said.
“Physicians need clear, accurate, concise images of anatomy to provide the patient with a better understanding of what is happening inside their body,” Sellers said. “This diagnosis is what determines the treatment plan.”
A radiologic technologist is a growing career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 7% growth in radiologic and MRI technologists' employment by 2028. Plus, it is predicted that there will be an increased need for radiologic technologists and their combination of tech-savvy and medical expertise.
What’s the Difference Between a Radiologic Technologist and a Radiologist?
Though both radiologic technologists and radiologists work with radiation technology, their job responsibilities are somewhat different. Radiologic technicians prepare patients for imaging procedures including, X-rays and MRIs. They are responsible for running the equipment correctly and keeping records and analysis of what they observe. They also hold images and notes for patients. Radiologists, on the other hand, analyze the data collected by radiologic technicians and are more responsible for diagnosing and treating patients.
What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do daily?
The day-to-day of a radiologist tech is fast-paced and unpredictable but extremely rewarding. As a radiologist tech, the scope of your job is broader than simply taking X-rays. Technologists work side by side with other healthcare professionals to produce static or dynamic images of anatomy. Technicians ask important questions about the information they are collecting through X-rays.
Organizational skills are valuable in this position, as radiologic technologists often guide patients through the entire scanning process. There is a lot of preparation involved in working with both the patient and medical technology. Doctors depend on radiologic techs to prepare a patient for examination, describe a patient's examination protocol and correctly position the patient so that the body can be properly x-rayed. The job doesn’t stop after the images are collected, as radiologic technologists analyze and strategize the best ways to aid the patient. They are a critical part of the observation and assessment of patients of all ages.
What Skills Do Radiologic Technologists Need?
Successful radiologic technologists possess strong critical thinking skills and empathy. They also possess the ability to strategically communicate with both medical staff and patients. A common trait among radiologic techs is the sense of compassion for patients going through stressful times.
“Technologists choose this career because they want to help others, which requires strong patient care skills and high levels of patient contact,” said Sellers. “You need to be professional, compassionate, kind, respectful, and want to give your patients excellent care while providing the physician and radiologist with the best possible images.”
It’s common for patients to feel anxious about their imaging procedure, but techs provide the best possible analysis from a professional standpoint, as well as possessing the empathy and compassion for helping others from a personal standpoint.
Other important skills to possess in this career include:
- Communication skills: You’ll need to communicate with patients to make the procedure as comfortable as possible.
- Strong math skills: Math is used daily to calculate techniques for images while taking into consideration the patient’s body habits.
- Attention to detail: A good technologist can critique the images for technique quality and positioning quality of anatomy, and make the adjustments that are needed.
Where Do Radiologic Technologists Work?
While many work in hospitals, that’s not the only work environment for this career. Radiologic technologists can also work at surgical centers, pain centers, orthopedic offices or outpatient imaging centers. Their day-to-day could look different, depending on where they work. For example, at hospitals, radiologic technologists X-ray patients in the imaging department or the emergency department with portable machines while those at an orthopedic facility or outpatient imaging facility may X-ray fractured and healing bones, or abdominal or chest anatomy, which are static images.
How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
Your pathway to becoming a radiologic technologist differs based on your career goals. According to Sellers, it takes about three years to become a registered technologist in radiography. It entails one year of generation education/pre-requisites, and 16 months to two years to complete an associate degree. Herzing offers a Radiologic Technology Program that can help you jump-start your career in just 24 months. The general education classes can be completed online, and then you can engage in live, hands-on learning at Herzing’s Orlando campus.
Radiological technicians also have lots of opportunities for growth within the medical field. Many techs study and enroll in additional modalities after becoming a Licensed Technologist in Radiography (RT(R). More education is required, and the ARRT requires proof of competency before taking an additional modality exam. Additional modalities are Mammography (M), Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR), Bone Densitometry (BD), or Radiologists Assistant (RA).
Interested in beginning your radiologic technologist? Learn more about how you can make this dream become a reality.