Radiology Technician Training

Radiology Technician Training

Radiology technicians can look forward to great working conditions, stable employment, growing job opportunities, and excellent pay throughout the next decade. Before you can work as a radiology technician, however, you have to get your training. What is the best place to start on the road to this exciting new career?

If Radiology Is Your First Health-Related Career

Future radiology technicians who have no prior experience in the allied health sciences usually earn an associate’s degree at a community college offering a two-year course in radiologic technology. There are also four-year programs leading to a BS degree and hospital-based programs that are almost entirely hands-on, although to get your training at a hospital you will need already to have some other allied health license, such as an RN.

Anyone who wants to study radiologic technology should have had at least high school level coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, and geometry. In your training program, you will use scientific concepts to develop a good understanding of how your work fits in the process of treating disease, how you can use your professional judgment in helping the doctor make a diagnosis, and how to maintain equipment and even run a department. But you will also be judged on some skills that are not purely academic.

Motor Skills and Radiology Training

Knowing how to describe radiologic technology won’t be enough. You will also have to demonstrate some physical skills. You will need to be able to tie an apron on yourself to protect against radiation (this isn’t optional!) and you will have to be able to pick up thin films without damaging or marking them.

Communication Skills and Radiology Training

An essential part of doing the work of a radiologic technician is the ability to read orders and to write notes that become a permanent part of the patient’s record. Although the ability to speak with patients in foreign languages is a valued skill, you absolutely, positively must demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak clear and effective English to gain a license to work in the United States.

Observation Skills and Radiology Training

Another essential part of doing the work of a radiologic technician is the ability to see fine details even in a low-light setting, and to be able to distinguish shades of color and interpret their diagnostic meaning. You will also need to show an ability to visualize where body structures should be before you ever start the exam so you will get the image the doctor needs without exposing the patient to unnecessary radiation.

Intellectual Skills and Radiology Training

Throughout your training, you will be expected to make commonsense judgments. If your patient presents a medical emergency in your department, you need to be able to know when to interrupt the X-ray exam to get medical help, and to provide first aid if you are the only responder available. You will also need to know how to respect professional boundaries, explaining the procedure as needed to your patients, but not taking the doctor’s role in suggesting diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment.

Social Skills and Radiology Training

More than many other jobs, radiologic technology requires “team players.” The radiologic tech cannot be the one who slows down urgent treatment or causes miscommunications between departments. You are expected to know when and how to offer help to colleagues, and when and how to receive it, for maximum efficiency in patient care.

Advanced Training in Radiologic Technology

After you get your license, you may choose to specialize in a challenging, high-demand area of radiologic imaging, such as:

•    Cardiovascular Intervention Procedures
•    Computerized Tomography (CT)
•    Diagnostic Medical Sonography
•    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
•    Nuclear Medicine
•    Radiotherapy

Before you master a specialty, however, you have to master the basics. And to get the license that nearly every state in the United States requires before you get a job you complete a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology  so you can take the exam to be licensed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Before you enter any program to become a radiologic technologist, be doubly sure that your program meets the requirements of both agencies.