Did you know that mammograms can successfully identify about 87 percent of women who have breast cancer?

With such a meaningful career, ensuring you have everything you need to succeed is essential. Not only does it help keep your job safe, but it helps keep your patients and their well-being safe. What kind of continuing education do you need to succeed?

Luckily, we’re here to help you get started. Read on to learn more about mammography continuing education.

Do You Need a Certification to Perform Exams?

You don’t necessarily need mammography certification to perform these exams, but you do need to meet a few guidelines. Remember, you’ll need to at least have a general certification in radiographic technology.

What other requirements do you need to meet, though?

Requirements to Work as a Mammography Technologist

The FDA’s mammography technologist employment regulations first came into effect on April 28, 1999. They outline what needs to be done to become a mammography technologist, and also to stay a mammography technologist. Here’s what you need to know.

License or Board Certification

You’ll either need a mammography certificate or a state license to perform any radiographic procedures. You can get certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists® (ARRT®). 

Initial Training

You’ll need to complete at least 40 hours of initial training to qualify for mammography technologist work. Here are a few of the things this training will require:

  • Breast anatomy and physiology
  • Special techniques for imaging those with breast implants
  • Breast positioning and compression
  • Other techniques for quality assurance

You’ll also need to complete at least 25 supervised mammograms. The time you spend on these can count toward the overall 40-hour total you’ll need for certification. If you’re a technologist that happened to qualify for certification before the guidelines were put into place on April 28, 1999, these guidelines don’t apply to you.

Continuing Experience

Next, for continuing experience, you’ll need to have completed at least 200 mammograms over the 36 months preceding the facility’s annual MQSA inspection. 

Another thing to note is that any credits you earned during the initial application training at your facility can be used for both MQSA and FDA requirements. That doesn’t mean they apply to your state and ARRT® requirements, though, so it’s important to pay attention. For example, you can only apply eight CE hours of initial training towards your certification per biennium.

Continuing Education

In order to meet the MQSA ongoing education requirements, you must earn 15 mammography credits every three years. Whether digital or analog, these credits will count toward your final requirements.

There is, however, an initial one-time digital requirement needed prior to performing digital mammography exams. You’ll need eight hours of training to meet this qualification.

How to Know When Your Credits Are Due

The best way to know when your CE credits are due is to check with your facility supervisor. They’ll know the date of your upcoming MQSA inspection, and they’ll be able to help plan what you need to pass.

Typically, MQSA inspectors will count your credits starting 36 months prior to the date of the annual inspection. Others, however, may use a quarterly reporting system. This can affect your timeframe, which is why it’s essential to speak with your facility supervisor in advance.

The earlier you can meet these requirements, the more peace of mind you can have when the inspection occurs.

Documentation You Will Need

At the time of your inspection date, there are a few documents you’ll need to be able to provide.

This will include your state license, board certification, certificates of completion for your 15 credit hours, and documentation of your initial training period. You’ll also need to have the documentation proving you’ve met the MQSA continuing experience requirement. This means proof that you’ve performed at least 200 mammograms in the 36 months prior to the inspection.

What Happens if You Fail to Meet Requirements?

There are a few different things which can cause you to fail to meet the requirements of, and it can affect your work life. To start, you’ll immediately have to stop completing unsupervised mammograms. Then it depends on the requirement you failed to meet.

Continuing Experience

To meet the MQSA’s continuing experience requirement, you’ll need to perform at least 25 supervised mammography exams under direct supervision. Once you’ve completed this with a qualified mammography technologist, you’ll be permitted to begin unsupervised exams again.

Continuing Education

To start, you’ll need to earn 15 credits to meet the requirement. Until this happens, you won’t be able to perform any mammography exams while unsupervised.  ARRT® requires 24 continuing education credits every 2 years, or every biennium, to keep the certification in good standing.

Before the FDA’s final guidelines were put into place, technologists could continue performing exams for 90 more days while completing their required CE credits. Once the final regulations were put into place, however, this was no longer the case.

Don’t Delay Your Mammography Continuing Education

When it comes to mammography continuing education, it’s best not to delay. While the MQSA requirements can seem daunting, they’re essential for helping you help patients. ARRT®’s requirements will help with learning about new equipment, techniques and patient care. 

Luckily, you don’t have to do it all alone. We can help you get started. Check out our courses today to learn more.