Essential Radiologic Technologist Skills

HealthcareOctober 13, 2023

Computerized tomography (CT) scans are a marvel of modern healthcare. They provide healthcare professionals a window into viewing a patient’s organs and bones quickly and non-invasively. By utilizing radiologic technology skills, professionals can more easily diagnose various conditions and diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots
  • Bone fractures
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Internal bleeding locations

According to 2022 research from the British Medical Journal, using CT scans for the early detection of cancer led to a nearly 12% average increase in survival from types of lung cancer in the U.S. between 2014 and 2018. This resulted in around 100,000 lives saved. 

While the use of non-invasive imaging can make a huge difference in patients’ lives, the technology must be operated by skilled professionals to be effective. Radiologic technologists use their well-rounded knowledge and skills in technology, patient care, and anatomy to provide this healthcare service, making this a desirable healthcare career. Those considering this career path should consider enrolling in an associate degree radiologic technology program to develop the proper radiologic technologist skills.

What Is a Radiologic Technologist?

Radiologic technologists are healthcare professionals responsible for capturing detailed images of the human body using various imaging equipment, including X-ray machines, CT scanners, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. It's their responsibility to operate the equipment, tuning it to accurately capture specific parts of the body. 

Radiologic techs help physicians and specialists diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions through the capture and analysis of these images. As this medical technology outputs some radiation, radiologic techs are also in charge of maintaining a safe environment for themselves and patients, as well as informing patients of important safety protocols such as the removal of jewelry and how to wear protective equipment.

When it comes to work environments, radiologic techs can be found anywhere that uses this technology, including in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and outpatient centers. While it’s possible to specialize exclusively in working with one type of imaging machine, such as becoming an x-ray technician, radiologic techs have a more holistic approach. They have a foundation of knowledge on a variety of machines, although they may choose to specialize through certifications.

Five Radiologic Technologist Skills

Radiologic technologists need various skills to support their holistic approach to technical expertise and patient care. Here are a few radiology technologist skills that professionals should develop to deliver effective care.

1. Technical Skills

Not only do radiologic technologists need to be skilled in operating the medical technology used for imaging, but they also need to be proficient in using compatible software to visualize and analyze these images. For example, picture archiving and communications systems help professionals leave notes and organize images. This and other technology is always evolving, so continuing to advance technical skills to stay up to date with the latest advancements is important.

2. Problem Solving

Depending on a patient's unique needs, equipment may require adjustment or correction to accurately picture the part of the body being scanned. 

For example, certain organs or bones may be difficult to see from certain angles and can require holding certain positions for extended periods. Depending on a patient’s mobility, they may not be able to hold these positions easily. Radiologic technologists would then need to solve how to take the images while reducing stress for the patient.

3. Communication

Radiologic technologists are responsible for explaining important aspects of imaging procedures to their patients, such as positioning alongside any potential discomforts. For example, they must adequately explain the importance of remaining still and verify that patients aren’t wearing any clothing that could interfere with the imaging. It’s also the responsibility of the radiologic tech to listen to patients and answer any questions or concerns they may have, helping to alleviate patient stress and improve the care experience.

4. Medical Knowledge

Radiologic imaging equipment has to be aimed accurately at the part of the body that’s being scanned, and likely needs to be calibrated to ensure its high quality to analyze properly. Knowing the structure of the skeleton and location of organs allows techs to adjust their equipment as needed and fine-tune images on the fly. It also helps them recognize and make note of any irregularities in the scan and investigate further if needed.

5. Organizational Skills

Orders for medical imaging are usually at the request of a doctor or specialist. They often need to be organized and sent to relevant members of a patient’s care team. To ensure prompt and appropriate treatments based on those findings, it is essential to make sure each patient file is properly organized and assigned to the appropriate healthcare professionals.

Benefits of Earning an Associate Degree

Earning an associate degree is a common choice for those looking to become a radiologic technologist. For those seeking to complete quality education in a timely fashion so they can start their career, an associate degree typically takes less time than a bachelor's degree. 

Associate degree programs can offer a more holistic curriculum than certification programs alone. Degree courses cover healthcare fundamentals as well as specific training with radiologic medical technology, all of which can help develop crucial radiologic technologist skills. An associate degree is also a minimal requirement for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART), which is typically required for employment in most states.

Skill Up Toward Your Next Career

To ensure you have all the radiologic technologists skills to begin your career, it’s beneficial to earn a well-rounded education. The Fortis educational experience is designed to provide fundamental healthcare knowledge alongside hands-on experience with medical technology that will be a part of your everyday job. Fortis’ Radiology Technologist program can allow you to earn an associate degree and start this career journey.

Focusing on a curriculum that covers radiological equipment and techniques, patient care, and anatomy, Fortis offers the opportunity to build the skills for success. Courses will prepare you for collaborating with other healthcare professionals and understand how to properly analyze imaging results.

Learn more about the difference you can make in healthcare with Fortis.

Recommended Readings

3 Types of X-Ray Exams Radiologic Technologists Perform
What Does a Limited Machine X-Ray Operator Do?
Celebrating African Americans in Radiology Technology

American Cancer Society, “Key Statistics for Lung Cancer”
British Medical Journal, “Association of Computed Tomography Screening with Lung Cancer Stage Shift and Survival in the United States: Quasi-Experimental Study”
Chron, “Career Path for a Radiography Technologist”
Chron, “Differences Between Radiologic Technicians and X-Ray Techs”
Indeed, “How To Become a Radiologist Technician (With FAQS)”
Indeed, “Radiologic Technologist Skills: Definitions and Examples”
Mayo Clinic, “CT Scan”
Science News, “For 50 Years, CT Scans Have Saved Lives, Revealed Beauty and More”
TechTarget, “What Is PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System)?”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Radiologic and MRI Technologists