The Radiology Profession

Significant Points

Nature of the Work

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations like x rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and mammography.

Some radiologic technologists, referred to as radiographers, produce x-ray films (radiographs) of parts of the human body for use in diagnosing medical problems. They prepare patients for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing jewelry and other articles through which x rays cannot pass, and positioning patients so that the parts of the body can be appropriately radiographed. To prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation, these workers surround the exposed area with radiation protection devices, such as lead shields, or limit the size of the x-ray beam. Radiographers position radiographic equipment at the correct angle and height over the appropriate area of a patient's body. Using instruments similar to a measuring tape they may measure the thickness of the section to be radiographed and set controls on the x-ray machine to produce radiographs of the appropriate density, detail, and contrast.

Radiologic technologists must follow physicians' orders precisely and conform to regulations concerning the use of radiation to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from unnecessary exposure.

In addition to preparing patients and operating equipment, radiologic technologists keep patient records and adjust and maintain equipment. They also may prepare work schedules, evaluate purchases of equipment, or manage a radiology department.

Radiologic technologists also perform more complex imaging procedures. When performing fluoroscopy, for example, radiologic technologists prepare a solution for the patient to drink, allowing the radiologist (a physician who interprets radiographs) to see soft tissues in the body.

Some radiologic technologists specialize in computed tomography (CT), as CT technologists. CT scans produce a substantial amount of cross-sectional x rays of an area of the body. From those cross-sectional x rays, a three-dimensional image is made. The CT uses ionizing radiation; therefore, it requires the same precautionary measures that are used with x rays.

Radiologic technologists also can specialize in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR) as MR technologists. MR, like CT, produces multiple cross-sectional images to create a 3-dimensional image. Unlike CT and x rays, MR uses non-ionizing radio frequency to generate image contrast.

Radiologic technologists might also specialize in mammography. Mammographers use low dose x-ray systems to produce images of the breast.

Work Environment

In a typical work setting, radiologic technologists:

Interpersonal Relationships

Physical Work Conditions

Work Performance

Hours/Travel

Information provided by: WOIS/The Career Information System at:http://www.wois.org/use/occs/viewer.cfm?occnum=100129#eo

 

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