A radiologic technologist is a medical professional who operates radiology scanning machines. These imaging machines include CT scanners, MRI scanners, x-ray machines, mammography machines, and others.
If you have an interest in this field, you may be curious about what you need to know or what coursework you must take to complete the program. Generally, you need an Associates degree and must take several classes relating to the medical field.
Becoming a radiological technologist takes about two years of hard work. If this type of work interests you, here are some things you need to know.
Radiological Technologists (Rad Techs)
Rad techs help prepare patients for scans and help them understand the test the doctor has ordered. They position patients for scanning and operate the imaging machines.
They are skilled equipment operators who know how to obtain quality images while shielding the patient from excessive exposure to radiation.
Some technologists help analyze images alongside physicians. Rad techs do not diagnose illnesses or share information about test results with patients.
A physician called a radiologist interprets the image results.
Some rad techs specialize in one area of imaging. And there’s a wide range of specialty areas to choose from.
The job is sometimes demanding and can be repetitive. Rad techs interact with many different patients, and this adds some variety to the job.
Men and women in this line of work are an important part of patient care and the healthcare community. Doctors rely on imaging tests to diagnose and treat many diseases, and the radiolic technologist help make this possible each day.
The most common way someone becomes a radiologic technologist is by completing an associate’s degree in radiology technology. There are some certificate programs that average 20-24 months to complete, and there are 4-year bachelor degree programs in this field as well.
While the curriculum will vary somewhat from program to program, here are a few subjects you will study as you work on an associate’s degree in this field.
You will learn about the structure of the human body, including the various body systems in an anatomy class.
In physiology, you will learn how the body functions and how the parts of the human body relate and interact with one another.
In a pathology class, you will learn about various viruses, syndromes, and diseases about which doctors can diagnose patients.
In order to take x-rays and scan patients in a safe manner, you have to understand how x-rays work and how they affect the human body. It takes skill to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to patients and yourself.
In a radiation physics course, you will learn about these things as well as how to be successful in the job.
In this field, you will deal with patients every day. Some will be very sick, afraid, or in pain. A class on patient care will prepare you to deal with patients and prepare them for various testing procedures.
In this job, you must position patients for imaging tests. In a positioning class, you will learn to safely position patients to produce the highest quality images.
In addition to your coursework, you will spend some time in a clinical setting getting some hands-on experience. You will observe and learn from other radiological technologists and medical personnel.
This offers you a more authentic experience and a true picture of the job you will someday have. You will gain experience working in various healthcare environments including:
- Operating room
- Emergency room
Most states require you to have a license to become a radiologic technologist. This is to protect the public from unnecessary radiation exposure from poorly trained technologist. State laws, testing, and licensing requirements vary, and you should check your state’s laws to understand the requirements.
Qualities of a Successful Rad Tech
The qualities of a good rad tech are empathy, approachability, compassion, and good communication skills. These are important qualities for healthcare professionals involved in direct patient care.
In this job, you have to operate specialized imaging equipment like x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, sonograms, and others. But you must also help patients feel comfortable and safe during the procedure.
Computer skills and the ability to collaborate and work as part of a team are also helpful qualities for this profession.
Where You Can Work
The majority of rad techs work in hospitals. But there are other options. Some work in doctors’ offices, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Some RT’s even operate their own mobile radiology business.
There are a variety of opportunities for employment. Rad techs are in demand, and you can perform this job in any state.
Because healthcare workers are needed 24 hours a day, there’s the possibility of working a flexible schedule that fits your needs.
Challenges of the Job
Being a rad tech is a great career for many, but the job does have its challenges. You need the physical stamina for the job. You will have to stand and position or lift some patients.
The average workweek is 40 hours, and you may have to work some evenings or weekends. After you have some experience, you will probably have more options for determining your work schedule.
Radiation exposure is always a concern. But if you wear the proper protective clothing and the machines are well maintained, the risk is minimal.
A Career to Feel Good About
If you are thinking about becoming a radiological technologist or changing careers, you can feel good about a career in the healthcare industry. You will be providing a necessary and skilled service for patients.
You will work with patients to make sure they are comfortable, safe, and receiving the imaging they need. And you will have a well-respected career you can be proud of.
The average salary for rad techs in 2015 was $56,670. The highest 10 percent in this field made up to $74,470.
Becoming a rad tech will take some work. And you may have to take an exam for certification in your state.
We can help you prepare for that. Contact us and see how we can help you fulfill your dream of becoming a radiologic technologist.