Established radiographers who have equipped themselves with additional training and satisfied certification norms are known as radiology assistants. Their work involves the performance of advanced diagnostic imaging procedures supervised directly by radiologists. A growing number of schools are offering degree programs in radiology assistant since this medical profession is steadily rising.
To become a radiology assistant (RA), a prospective candidate needs to complete a radiologic assistant degree program that the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) recognizes. In 2010, universities offered eleven such programs at the master degree, post-baccalaureate certificate and bachelor degree level (source: www.arrt.org). Accredited radiology assistant degree programs only admit certified radiologic technologists (RT) (also referred to as radiographers) with many years of work experience in a clinical setting.
Coursework in a radiology assistant degree program spans for a period of two years; this includes a combination of class-work and supervised internship in a clinical setting. Subject areas covered include medical ethics, patient assessment and care, health care law, clinical radiology, radiobiology, pharmacology, health information management, imaging and diagnostic testing. A thesis is included in a master-level course. Continuing education credits would be required to sustain employment in this profession.
Radiology Assistants Licensure and Certification Requirements
Those who have completed radiology assistant degree programs can qualify for the Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA)’s certification that the ARRT issues. The American Heart Association’s certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is also sought by the ARRT. State-wise licensing requirements have been provided by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) on its website (source: www.asrt.org). Radiology assistants need to renew registration every year and certification every two years.
Career Information for a Radiology Assistant
Many advanced imaging procedures previously completed solely by radiologists (medical doctors) are now performed by radiology assistants. These professionals, also called radiologist extenders offer assistance to radiologists by performing a host of invasive processes; to this end, they perform fluoroscopy procedures (creation of video images of internal organs using x-rays), operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, take x-rays and conduct exams. The radiologist evaluates the patient’s condition once the findings of the radiologist assistant have been reported.
Radiology Assistants Required Skills
Radiology assistants are expected to have exceptional communication skills and must be able to interact well with patients and doctors in a dynamic work setting. Detail-orientation and up-to-date knowledge of imaging procedures will help these professionals perform effectively in their duties. Apart from the ability to perform within a radiology team, these professionals must have the ability to make preliminary evaluations, interpret exam results and submit reports, performing these tasks independently.
Radiology Assistants Career Forecast and Salary Information
The ASRT has projected continual growth demands for radiology assistants; the optimistic forecast is based on the growing workload for radiologists. In 2008, according to an ASRT survey, radiology assistants took home an average annual salary of $102,972 (www.ama-assn.org) (Source: the American Medical Association’s 2009-2010 Health Care Careers Directory).