Radiologic technologists operate X-ray machines, and with additional training use digital mammography machines, computed tomography (CT) machines, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and other types of medical imaging equipment. Radiographers may also specialize in fluoroscopy or angiography.
The job description can include:
- Preparing the patient for the exam by explaining the procedure.
- Positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed.
- Setting controls on the machine to produce images of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast.
- Placing the imaging plate under the part of the patient’s body to be examined and make the exposure.
- Using a computer to develop and manage x-ray images.
- Providing basic patient care.
- Performing trauma and surgical x-ray procedures.
Radiologic technologists are on their feet for long periods of time and have to help or lift disabled patients. Although there are radiation hazards present, these are minimized by proper radiation protection practices, including the use of lead aprons, and other shielding devices. In addition, technologists wear badges that measure radiation levels in their work area and detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose. Technologists must be able to move, push, and manipulate equipment. They must also be comfortable working on a computer.
Most full-time radiologic technologists work about 40 hours a week. They may, however, have evening, weekend, or on-call hours. In a hospital setting, technologists may work a full-time night shift or weekend shift, and alternating these shifts may be required. Opportunities for part-time and shift work also are available and new graduates may start with a PRN status, with variable days and hours.