The Radiology Profession
- Employment is projected to grow faster than average; those with knowledge of more than one diagnostic imaging procedure will have the best employment opportunities.
- Formal training programs in radiography are offered in hospitals or colleges and universities and lead to a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree.
- Most States require licensure, and requirements vary.
- Although hospitals will remain the primary employer, a number of new jobs will be found in physicians' offices and diagnostic imaging centers.
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.
In a typical work setting, radiologic technologists:
- Have a high level of social interaction. They constantly talk to doctors and patients.
- Are greatly responsible for patients' health and safety.
- Often deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous patients.
- Are often placed in conflict situations.
- Are responsible for the results of the workers they supervise.
- Communicate with coworkers and patients daily by telephone or in person.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Write letters and memos on a monthly basis.
Physical Work Conditions
- Always work indoors.
- Are exposed to diseases and infections on a daily basis.
- Are often exposed to radiation while making x-rays.
- Often wear special protective clothing when taking x-rays. May wear a special medical uniform.
- Are often exposed to contaminants.
- Often wear protective attire, such as gloves.
- Work very near patients and doctors. They often work within inches of other people.
- Must be very exact and thorough in their work. Bad images could cause doctors to make incorrect diagnoses.
- Must repeat the same physical activities, such as positioning patients before the procedure.
- Make decisions on a daily basis that strongly impact patients. They rarely consult doctors before making decisions.
- Are usually able to set their tasks for they day without consulting with a supervisor. This is because they do many of the same tasks with each patient.
- Must meet strict deadlines on a weekly basis.
- Often must match the pace of work with the speed of equipment.
- Generally have a set schedule each week.
- May work part time or full time, but most work 40 hours a week.
- May work days, nights, weekends, or holidays.
Information provided by: WOIS/The Career Information System at:http://www.wois.org/use/occs/viewer.cfm?occnum=100129#eo
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