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Radiology Assistant Education Requirements and Employment Outlook

Job Descriptions March 1, 2013

Established radiographers complete certification after additional training to become radiology assistants. Advanced diagnostic imaging procedures are performed by these professionals whom work are supervised by radiologists. There is an increasing trend among universities and colleges to offer radiology assistant degree programs with continual growth seen in this relatively new allied medical field.

Radiology Assistants Education Requirements

To become a radiology assistant, an aspiring candidate has to complete a radiologic assistant degree program that is recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). In 2010, eleven universities offered such programs at the graduate, post-baccalaureate, undergraduate, and certificate degree levels (www.arrt.org). Admission to accredited radiology assistant degree programs are only given to certified radiologic technologists (RT) who are also called radiographers, they have many years of clinical experience. It typically takes two years to complete a radiology assistant degree program that combines classroom lectures with supervised clinical internship. Coursework includes subject areas such as medical ethics, health care law, clinical radiology, radiobiology, pharmacology, health information management, diagnostic testing and imaging, and patient assessment and care. A thesis is also included in the graduate level programs. Continuing education credits may be required to sustain a job in this field.

Radiology Assistants Licensure and Certification Requirements

To obtain Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) certification that is provided by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, students who graduate from the radiology assistant degree programs need to pass an examination. The Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification offered via the American Heart Association is also required by the ARRT. Eleven states mandate radiologist assistants to be licensed in order to practice as of 2010. Students can obtain the list of licensing requirements by state from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT – www.asrt.org). Every year, radiology assistant needs to renew their registration. Radiology assistants need to maintain radiologic technologist certification through renewal every two years.

Career Information for Radiology Assistant

A large number of advanced imaging procedures that were previously performed by radiologists (medical doctors) are now being executed by radiology assistants. Radiology assistants who are sometimes known as radiologist extenders, these professionals could assist radiologists with a number of invasive procedures including perform fluoroscopy procedures (x-rays will be used to create video images of internal organs), taking x-rays, operating magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, and conducting examination. Assistants report their research to the radiologist who will make the final evaluation of a patient’s condition.

Radiology Assistants Skills

The ability to interact with physicians and patients in a dynamic environment, as well as exceptional communication skills, is an essential requirement of radiologist assistants who must also possess detail-orientation and current knowledge of imaging techniques. They must be team players and have the ability to operate independently when they make preliminary evaluations, interpret exam results and submit reports.

Radiology Assistants Career Forecast and Salary Information

As the workload for radiologists gradually increase, the demand for radiology assistants is expected according to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. The American Medical Association issues the 2009-2010 Health Care Careers Directory and reported that a 2008 American Society of Radiologic Technologists survey listed an average annual salary for radiology assistant at $102,972 (www.ama-assn.org).

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