Perhaps a rad tech career is for you

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many times are you teens asked that question? I bet I can’t count that high. But, as you head into career deciding days, you’re faced with a multitude of choices, and with the high cost of education, you can only hope you’re making the right one.

Let me suggest, then, that those of you who are thinking you may be interested in a medical career consider looking into becoming a radiologic technologist. A what?

“Radiologic technologists are the health care professionals who perform diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-ray examinations, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and computed tomography (CT) scans. Some of them specialize in specific techniques such as cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography or sonography,” explains the website ExploreHealthCareers.org.

According to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), rad techs make up the third-largest group of health care professionals – surpassed in number only by physicians and nurses. And, according to the website radiologyschools411.com, the need for rad techs in the U.S. is projected to increase by nine percent by 2024 growing this field faster than average for all occupations.

I asked Bonner General Health’s Director of Diagnostic Imaging, Daniel Holland if he thought to choose radiological technologist was a good career choice.

“Yes. The field is constantly changing with new technology and techniques. Being a registered radiologic technologist (RT(R)) isn’t just specific to X-ray. The RT(R) is the first modality that a person trains into, and then they can pursue additional certifications into many other modalities as well,” Holland said.

You see, each modality adds a letter to the alphabet soup at the end of your name. For instance, add (M) for mammography, (CT) for computed tomography (MRI) for magnetic resonance imaging and/or (RDMS) for registered diagnostic medical sonographer, to name a few, whew!

“Getting your RT(R) is really just a start,” Holland said. And that start may also lead you to help physicians perform procedures, such as angioplasty or stent insertion, to treat heart and blood vessel diseases without surgery. Or, you might administer therapeutic doses of radiation to treat diseases such as cancer.

A survey taken of rad techs a few years ago found that the top reason for entering this field was that they wanted an interesting career, and they wanted to work in a profession that helps people. And, helping people is the main event since, in the last thirty years, diagnostic imaging has revolutionized the methods medical professionals use to interpret, diagnose and treat medical ailments and life-threatening diseases.

One study I found determined that the use of medical imaging is directly related to Americans living longer. We old folks will remember exploratory surgeries that are now accomplished by non-invasive technology. Look at how often safe and effective diagnostic imaging has provided early detection for various cancers. It’s astonishing.

If you’re interested in becoming a radiologic technologist, you may want to know the specifics, as in how much money will you make, how much schooling do you need and will there be a job for you when you’re done?

“Most full-time entry-level techs make right around $50,000 per year,” Holland said. “A lot of people start as part-time or PRN (as needed) status and work their way into full time, fixed-hour positions.”

There are two-year and four-year degrees. I was reading about North Idaho College’s program when Holland said, “We have quite a few programs that are fairly close to us. NIC in Coeur d’Alene, Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston, Spokane Community College, and Carrington College in Spokane all offer programs.”

And, as for job opportunities, we’re situated in an optimum area with not only BGH whose needs are growing, but also with hospitals and clinics in the surrounding communities. Holland said that there are usually open positions available.

He also said, “Radiologic technologist is a great career for someone who is looking for a fast-paced, technology-driven, constantly changing career with a strong desire to help those around them,” What say you? Will you consider a career in radiologic technology?

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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