The demand for radiologic technologists, or radiographers, is expected to increase by 9 percent over the next eight years. With a few exceptions, most states require radiologic technologist to be licensed or certified.
Even if this isn’t a requirement in your state, you should still consider getting certified. Continuing education will not only expand your knowledge but also boost your chances of landing a higher-paying job.
An associate or bachelor’s degree in this field ensures that you’re familiar with the different types of medical imaging. However, a state-specific license and continuing education are just as important.
As a certified radiologic technologist and depending on your modality, you’ll be better prepared to perform X-rays, ultrasounds, and other imaging tests and ensure the quality of diagnostic images. Depending on your career goals, you can specialize in one or more areas, not just X-rays.
Your job doesn’t end after capturing the image you need. You are also responsible for analyzing images for quality. Continuing education can equip you with the skills needed to fulfill your role as a radiologic technologist.
Interested to find out more? Here are five types of medical imaging tests you may qualify to perform as a fully certified radiologic technologist.
1. Radiographic Imaging
Radiographic imaging, or X-rays, uses ionizing radiation to capture images of the bones, organs, and internal tissues on film. This test helps diagnose patients by assessing the presence or absence of disease, abnormalities, foreign objects, and more.
As a radiologic technologist, it’s your responsibility to carefully choose the protocol parameters, such as the imaging exposure time and the voltage across the X-ray tube.
For example, if the X-ray tube voltage is too low during a chest radiograph, you may not get a clear enough image to detect the cause of illness. Every detail matters, from technique selection to contrast, noise, and tube voltage.
Different types of radiographic imaging are used for different purposes.
A dentist, for instance, may order X-rays to diagnose dental fractures. Patients with digestive disorders may require barium enemas. X-rays may also be used for diagnosing breast tumors, infections, or blocked blood vessels.
Depending on your career path, you may choose to specialize in specific types of X-rays, such as head and neck imaging or cardiac imaging.
You can also take radiology continuing education courses in radiation protection, radiographic imaging and exposure, and other subjects relevant to your field.
2. Computed Tomography
Computed tomography (CT) is one of the most widely used diagnostic imaging techniques. More than 270,500 tomographies are performed each year in the U.S. alone.
This imaging technique produces cross-sectional images of anatomy.
The patient is positioned on a motorized table that moves through a gantry while the X-ray tube emits signals. The signals are processed by the machine’s computer, generating successive snapshots that can be stacked together to form a 3D image.
CT scans can be used to detect injuries or diseases affecting the brain, heart, and other organs or tissues.
Doctors may order this test to assess complex bone fractures, blood clots, tumors, and more. The images are more detailed than those generated with conventional X-rays.
Several types of CT procedures exist, and each has unique characteristics. CT colonography, for example, may help diagnose polyps, which are a risk factor for colon cancer.
Computed tomography angiography (CTA), on the other hand, is used to detect diseases of the blood vessels.
As a radiologic technologist, you can specialize in computed tomography as a whole or deepen your knowledge in specific areas, like cardiac and vascular computer tomography.
3. Obstetric Ultrasonography
Whether you’re planning to work in a hospital or private clinic, you might choose obstetric ultrasonography. Specializing in this area will allow you to work with OB/GYNs, opening up a world of opportunities.
This imaging test uses waves to produce images of a woman’s uterus or ovaries. It may also be used to generate pictures of her unborn child.
Obstetric ultrasound can help assess fetal growth and well-being, as well as the position of the fetus.
Doctors may also order this test to determine the gestational age, fetus location and appearance of the placenta, fetal number, and other pregnancy-related factors.
4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Unlike X-rays, this imaging technique uses radio waves and strong magnetic fields to generate images of the brain and other organs or tissues. It’s a common diagnostic tool for cysts, tumors, brain or spinal cord abnormalities, liver disease, and joint injuries.
MRI technology is constantly evolving and has a wide range of applications. Nearly 12,000 MRI systems are used in the U.S. alone. These devices play a key role in tumor diagnosis and staging.
If you specialize in this field, you’ll not only analyze the images from your scan and report your findings but also prepare the patients.
Since this technology is changing at a fast pace, it’s important to keep up with the trends. Therefore, continuing education is a must.
5. Mammography and Breast Imaging
Mammography is a type of X-ray used to detect breast cancer in early stages. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening tests, including mammograms, to all women over age 40.
As a radiologic technologist, you may specialize in digital mammography, digital breast tomosynthesis, or computer-aided detection (CAD) systems. These techniques serve the same purpose but use slightly different technologies.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer affecting women.
Your findings could help save lives. Images from a mammogram can pinpoint abnormalities, cysts, lumps, or signs of cancer in early stages of the disease.
Learn About the Different Types of Medical Imaging
Radiologic technology is one of the fastest-growing fields in the healthcare industry. Those who embrace this profession play a key role in patient care. Continuing education can hone your abilities so that you can excel in this career.
By getting certified in the different types of medical imaging, you open more options for yourself and are better prepared to address the needs of your patients. Your expertise could save their lives.
Take the next step in your career by continuing your education through accredited radiology courses. Feel free to contact us for more information!