Go ahead, congratulate yourself! You’ve done a very smart thing by starting to explore career areas that will need more highly trained employees in the decades to come. That combination isn’t just a hopeful dream; it’s doable with a two-year associate degree from a radiologic technologist school. This patient-focused profession helps give people a better life, rewards you for your skills, and offers day-to-day job variety and satisfaction.
The A.A.S. in Radiologic Technology
Officially, the college degree that fits this combination of benefits is the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Radiologic Technology. (An applied science degree means you’ve achieved the skills and knowledge that employers can use immediately.)
Those earning this degree, passing a national exam, and becoming ARRT certified and registered, are known as radiologic technologists. Sometimes they are commonly referred to as radiographers.
What Radiologic Technologists Do
A radiologic technologist (sometimes called a “rad tech” or a radiographer) is a medical professional who is part of a health care team. Radiologic technologists are certified and registered to perform diagnostic imaging examinations such as X-rays and other imaging technologies that physicians use in the diagnosis of disease or trauma. These images are taken externally, and they reveal an internal view of the body without requiring invasive procedures.
If what they do sounds important and valuable, it is. The annual report from US News named radiologic technologists among its “top 15” list of health care support jobs. The average median compensation is more than $59,000 yearly.
Degree options for a “rad tech” career can be confusing. Two-year or four-year option? Consider this: Nearly 60 percent of students choose the A.A.S. (two-year) degree because they enter the workforce two years ahead of those in a four-year program.
Here are eight “must-haves” when you’re considering radiologic technologist school:
1. Meeting employer needs
What you don’t want from a radiologic technology school is to miss certain aspects of education that employers consider essential to success in a continually expanding profession. The radiologic technology program you choose must meet the education, ethics, and examination requirements of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
2. Focus on patient care
A comprehensive radiologic technology program will emphasize concepts and practices that decrease patient anxiety and increase understanding and satisfaction with imaging procedures. It’s a concept known as AIDET – referring to the five communication behaviors: Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, and Thank.
3. Adequate access to equipment
Competency with radiologic technology systems is best achieved with the combination of small class sizes (15 or less) and multiple on-campus X-ray units and demonstration suites.
4. Real-life skills competency
In a hospital or emergency room scenario, radiologic technologists will encounter patients with injuries or illness. You will also encounter people with varied body types, and some may have physical limitations. Courses that help you confidently go from “textbook implementation” to “real life” performance will set you ahead of other graduates.
5. Comprehensive coursework
Accurate medical imaging requires a deep knowledge of the human body, its systems, and its processes. Coming into a radiologic technologist school, it’s a good idea to have had some courses in anatomy, physiology, and Algebra-level or higher math, so there’s a smooth transition to professional coursework.
That coursework should include patient positioning, radiation safety and protection, health care terminology, and soft skills such as empathetic communication, active listening, and collaborative problem-solving.
6. Patient safety
As a “rad tech,” you’ll be a member of a professional health care team, contributing to discussions regarding imaging that’s clinically appropriate or when risks outweigh benefits. Check for in-depth instruction covering radiation safety and patient safety techniques.
7. Early patient interaction
Learning includes knowing how to interact successfully with patients, so expect radiologic technologist schools to put a variety of supervised patient care experiences throughout the curriculum.
8. Student-compatible clinical experience options
The on-the-job rotation schedules available for students in a radiologic technology program should meet employer needs and deliver optimal real-world clinical experiences. Ask the radiologic technologist schools you are considering about their clinical partnership experiences so you have a clear idea of what to expect during this part of your educational training.
Discover the CUKC Radiologic Technology Program
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas, the largest suburban city in the Kansas City metro area.
CUKC offers an accelerated, Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Radiologic Technology degree with:
Get more information about the CUKC radiologic technologist degree and the profession with a free eBook: Your Complete Guide to a Career as a Radiologic Technologist.