If you're working in the field as a radiologic technologist, you might find yourself in the radiology department of a hospital, an urgent care center or even a specialized imaging clinic or radiology practice. In all of these facilities, you can be expected to take X-rays or diagnostic images not only of broken bones and sprains but pulled muscles and torn ligaments, as well. Increasingly, however, doctors are relying on the expertise of radiologic technologists to also capture pictures of the inside of the human body to help them diagnose medical conditions and diseases.
A Typical Day
A typical day in the life of a radiologic technologist might involve the following:
- Check to make sure all the equipment is operational before taking any images.
- Give the patient a clean medical gown (which could be paper or cloth, depending on the practice) to wear, if necessary.
- Prepare the patient by properly positioning the equipment and/or the patient for areas that need to be photographed.
- If a patient is disabled in any way, this may also require lifting a patient so the affected area is readily available to be photographed.
- Once positioned, make sure that the patient is not exposed to any unnecessary radiation during the process. Drape a lead-lined gown over reproductive areas as well as vital organs.
- Operate the equipment (mostly computerized) to take the images.
- Review the images once they are taken to make sure they are accurate and can provide the physician or medical personnel with the information they need to properly diagnose a problem.
- Take additional images or redo images once the film is reviewed if a physician needs a different angle.
- Print and/or develop the images that are taken using an advanced computer printing process. This may include actual film or, more often, a digital file.
- Properly label the images that are taken and cross reference them with a patient's medical records.
- Clean off any equipment that was used, in addition to the table that the patient may have been lying on.
- Make sure the medical gown is disposed of if it is made of paper; if cloth, put the gown in a container to be laundered.
Many radiologic technologist programs provide training on the proper utilization of different kinds of computer equipment that will be used in this field. Consequently, job opportunities exist not only for X-ray technicians but also for radiologic technicians who might work with advanced CT (computed tomography) as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment.
With an increased dependence on this equipment to more adequately pinpoint a patient's medical condition, more doctors' offices and imaging clinics rely on radiologic technologists to be an integral part of their health care team.