WORTHINGTON — A radiologic technologist is a health care professional that specializes in imaging the human anatomy for diagnosis and treatment. With the rapid advancements in technology over the last several decades, there is much more to the profession than one might be aware of. Radiologic technologists have the capability to carry out several types of imaging modalities, which allows for a career that provides continuous growth and lifelong learning.
Many radiologic technology educational programs focus on providing the necessary education for accurately positioning patients and ensuring that a quality diagnostic image is produced, explicitly for radiography, also known as x-rays. However, many radiologic technologists are performing and completing much more daily within their career. With additional training and certification, a radiologic technologist can also perform many modalities such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography and bone densitometry (DEXA) scans. A radiologic technologist can also specialize in cardiac or vascular interventional radiography. Oftentimes, the additional training for these modalities can be completed “on the job” or provided by the employer. With formal education, a radiologic technologist can also become a radiation therapist. Radiation therapists are technologists who specialize in radiation therapy, which is the application of radiation to treat cancer and other diseases.
In addition to the variety of modalities a technologist can perform, radiologic technologists also have the capability of working in a variety of health care settings. These settings can include hospitals, free standing clinics, health care facilities, physicians’ offices or mobile imaging companies. Furthermore, radiologic technologists also work in a variety of areas within these settings, such as surgery, emergency rooms, intensive care units and inpatient rooms.
Students complete the radiologic technology program and then decide if they want to specialize in a particular area. Oftentimes, the area they specialize in can also be driven by the needs of the organization in which they are employed by. Many technologists perform several modalities, especially in a smaller, rural health care facility where an organization may only employ a handful of radiologic technologists.
Radiologic technology is profession that suits many individuals. The radiologic technology program at Minnesota West Community and Technical College has a diverse group of students. Students have different backgrounds, some traditional and some non-traditional. There are some students that prefer a slower-paced work environment and others that like action. Some students want to learn the basics and some that want to learn as much as possible. Many want to find a job that provides day shifts, whereas a few would rather work an evening or night shift. Even through all the diversity, the radiologic technology profession has the variety to meet the desires of each student. The profession offers many employment opportunities that provides variable work situations to accommodate various lifestyles and needs.
Like other health care professions, the job outlook for a radiologic technologist is excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for radiologic technologists is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Falon Paluch is the Radiologic Technology Program director and instructor at Minnesota West Community & Technical College.