Radiology Careers

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Radiology is a branch of medicine focusing on imaging and safely using radiation to diagnose, detect, and treat disease or medical conditions. Radiology is a branch of medicine that offers a multitude of careers using imaging equipment to investigate bones, tissue, and internal organs. Radiologists use x rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), fusion imaging, and ultrasound to diagnose and treat disease and/or injury. Radiologists utilize imaging technology to perform radiation oncology, interventional radiology, and/or minimally invasive image guided surgery. Supervisors within the field of radiology direct radiology technologists and other personnel to diagnose, treat, or assist in preventing a host of medical issues, diseases, and disorders. Specialists in this field of medicine can work at hospitals, clinics, private medical offices, or managed care facilities.

Cardiovascular Technologists are a group of technologists who perform a wide range of vascular imagining, tests, and exams. A cardiovascular technologist primary job duties include reviewing and recording patient history and clinical data, performing clinical procedures and determining anatomical, pathological, or physicological data for physicians, and performing cardiovascular diagnoses and therapeutic services. Cardiovascular technologists often perform angiography, stents, cardiovascular imaging through the use of radiation, and biplane fluoroscopy to guide catheters, vena cava filters, stents, or other tools through the body with or without open surgery. Cardiovascular technologists perform diagnostic examinations or therapeutic interventions of the heart or blood vessels to diagnose and treat vascular disease, coronary artery disease, determine anatomic abnormalities, as well as provide invasive cardiology through cardiac catheterization, non-invasive cardiology through echocardiography, or non-invasive peripheral vascular studies through vascular ultrasound. In order to qualify for the job of cardiovascular technologist, one must successfully complete high school and depending upon area of diagnostic specialty, invests in a bachelor’s degree in a clinically related allied health profession. An additional one to four years of graduate work as well as interventional-cardiovascular certification is required. Accredited programs must provide didactic instruction, formal laboratory experience, and patient based clinical instruction. Courses of study much include introduction to cardiovascular technology, general or applied sciences, human anatomy, physicology, basic pharmacology, basic medical electronics, basic medical instrumentation, and core curriculum requirements in specialties of invasive cardiology, non-invasive cardiology, or non-invasive peripheral vascular study. Certified and skilled cardiovascular technologists have the potential to earn a salary of $65,000 depending on educational requirements and job experience.

Dosimetrist (or Radiation Therapy Dosimetrist) A dosimetrist is a member of a radiation oncology team who specializes in radiation therapy treatment. A dosimetrist is trained in the physics of any radiation treatment. Dosimetrists design radiation therapy for patients suffering from a variety of diseases or disorders, including cancer. Dosimetrists are responsible for calculating and devising complex treatment plans with doctors and medical physicists to assist in treating a patient. In clinical cases of cancer, a dosimetrist carefully determines a dose of radiation to best destroy a tumor/tumors while sparing normal tissues, thereby developing case specific treatment plans customized for each patient. Dosimetrists must complete intensive training including a bachelors degree in radiation therapy with graduate work in a one to two year dosimetry program. Required courses must include human anatomy, human physiology, physics, algebra, precalculus, writing, public speaking, computer science, research methodology, radiography (the study of radiological imaging), and radiation therapy, in programs accredited by the American Registry of Radiology Technologists (ARRT). Successful completion and passing certification requirements through The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board qualify a dosimetrist for employment. A dosimetrist has the potential to earn a salary of $75,450 yearly after successfully completing educational and certification requirements.

Medical Radiation Physicists Medical Radiation Physicists perform supervisor duties in the radiography field of medicine. Medical Radiation Physicists work closely with doctors, dosimetrists, and radiagrahers to develop and direct quality control programs for equipment and procedures as well as devise treatment planning and administration. Medical radiation physicists instruct and oversee dosimetrists’ treatment plans to ensure options are tailored specifically for each patient and administered properly. Medical radiation phyicists manage and monitor radiation equipment performs properly through various measurements of radiation beam characteristics and other safety tests. To qualify as a medical radiation physicist, students must successfully complete masters degree programs with employers preferring doctoral degrees. Qualified medical physicists complete four years of undergraduate work, two to four years of graduate school, and an additional one or two years of clinical physics training. Certification through the American Board of Radiology as well as the American Board of Medical Physics is also required. Medical Radiation physicists earn a yearly salary of $118,513 after completing educational and certification requirements.

Nuclear Medicine Physicist Nuclear Medicine Physicists are the experts who utilise nuclear imaging instrumenation and radiation dosimetry who specialize in the interatctions between ionizing radiation and matter. Nuclear medicine physicists have extensive training in image processing, computer science, and medicine. Nuclear medicine physicists work as part of a nuclear medicine team of physicians and tecnologists who assist with the physical aspects of new applications of nuclear medicine, perform acceptance testing and maintenance of programs of nuclear medicine instrumentation, and make any necessary dosimetric calculations. A profound knowledge of the operation of nuclear medicine, the use of imaging equipment, and complex physical principles of radiation and its effects on the patient receiving treatment, image reconstruction, data analysis, and oversee the administration of radiation treatment. To qualify as a nuclear medicine physicist, a candidate must have a solid scientific background as a medical physicist with a masters or doctoral degree in physicics, medical physics, radiologic physics, engineering, applied mathematics, or physical science. In addtion, a candidate must complete two or three years of clinical experience and training followed by certification in Nuclear Medicine Physics or Radiation Protection through the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine. Certification through the American Board of Radiology through Medical Nuclear Physics is also an option.

Nuclear Medicine Radiologist Nuclear Medicine Radiologists are physicians who use radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat disease using specific procedures to create images of the body’s organs or to visualize certain disease. A common procedure used by nuclear medicine radiologists is scintigraphy, or the process of a patient injesting, injecting, or inhaling radioactive material to obtain images to detect and treat hyperthryoidism, thyroid cancer, solid tumors, or painful bone metastases through a variety of imagining techniques. Nuclear medicine radiologists detect and diagnose anatomical abnormalities as well as many medical conditions and diseases of the renal, thyroid, bone, gallium, heart, brain, and breast organs or tissues. Many nuclear medicine radiologists oversee radiopharmaceutical tracers in medical exams and then take and interpret images to assist a team of medical staff to diagnose and treat disorders. An extensive background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology, and medicine is required as well as successfully completing educational degree programs. Candidates must have a bachelors degree, complete a four year residency in diagnostic radiology, have one or more years of specialized training in nuclear medicine, and later be certified by the American Board of Science in Nuclear Medicine. A nuclear medicine radiologist has the potential to earn a salary of $91,000 yearly.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Nuclear Medicine Technologists administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients and monitor the characteristics and functions of tissues or organs where the radiopharmaceuticals localize to detect abnormalities. Nuclear medicine technologists administer radioactive drugs orally, through injection, or through inhalation. Nuclear medicine technologists then operate cameras, also known as gamma scintillation cameras or “scanners,” that detect and map radioactive pharmaceuticals within a patient’s body to obtain diagnostic images. The images are then stored on film or produced on a computer screen for further interpretation by a staff of highly trained physicians and medical staff. Nuclear medicine technologists can either specialize in two fields: nuclear cardiology or positron emission tomography (PET). Nuclear medicine technologists measure, monitor, and obtain images using myocardial perfusion ascertain heart function and measure blood flow. Positron emission tomography involves technologists operating a special medical imaging device to produce 3-D image/s of the body. In order to qualify for employment as a nuclear medicine technologist, candidates must complete certificate programs and have an associate or bachelors degree. Core courses of study must include: physical sciences, biological effects of radiation exposure, radiation protection, radiation procedures, use of radiopharmaceuticals, imaging techniques, and computer applications. Certification after passing a comprehensive exam through the American Registry of Radiologic Technoloists from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board are also requirements in addition to training programs. A nuclear medicine technologist has the potential to earn a salary of $66,660 yearly.

Nuclear Pharmacists Nuclear pharmacists, formerly known as radiopharmacists, specialize in the preparation, dispensation, and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals or radioactive drugs. Nuclear pharmacists belong to a distinct nuclear medicine team of specialists who provide health and safety consultation within hospitals, nuclear pharmacies, industry, academic settings, or governmental or private research facilities. Nuclear pharmacists fill radioactive drug prescriptions, handle dangerous substances or biological specimens, accurately assess instruments and equipment for quality purposes, control the inventory of radioactive drugs, and oversee proper preparation of patients before administering radioactive drugs or materials. Nuclear pharmacists also educate nuclear medicine technologists or residents. Nuclear pharmacists must complete an accredited pharmacy program, complete 200 hours of class room instruction based on radioisotope handling, radiopharmaceutical chemistry, radiation physics and instrumentation, mathematics of radioactivity, radiation biology, and radiation protection, with an additional 500 hours in handling unsealed radioactive material with a qualified instructor in order to obtain certification. After completing educational requirements and passing exams through the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties, a candidate has the potential to earn a salary of $103,454 yearly.

Radiation Oncologist Radiation oncologists utilize x-rays, electrons, gamma rays, and radiation therapies to treat tumors and cancers. Radiation oncologists tion oncologists mix aggressive treatment options for people suffering from curable cancers and simple treatments for people suffering from incurable cancers who need relief. Radiation oncologists investigate the effects of radiation therapy on most types of cancer including breast, lung, skin, and brain cancers. Radiation oncologists are a specialized team within nuclear medicine who focus on 3-D treatment planning, external beam radiation, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy or IMRT, stereotactic radiosurgery, prostate seed implants, brachytherapy, concurrent chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Radiation oncologists assist physicians and other specialists to treat each particular patient with the most effective, patient specific, radiation technique to destroy abnormal cancer cells and spare normal surrounding tissue. Radiation oncologists assist symptoms of patients with incurable cancers as well. Radiation oncologists use 3-D images to precisely determine the location and size of tumors to give patients and medical staff an accurate assessment of treatment options. In order to become a radiation oncologist, candidates must possess a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree, gain acceptance into a 4 year medical school, complete a year of internship, and finish with 4 years of a residency program specializing in radiation oncology and clinical oncology. After completing rigorous education and certification requirements, a radiation oncologist can initially earn up to $241,000 yearly.

Radiation Oncology Nurse Radiation Oncology Nurses are registered nurses trained in the field of radiation treatment. Radiation oncology nurses work closely within a radiation team to provide patient care, evaluate patient before, during, and after radiation treatment, and address cancer specific or treatment specific issues. A radiation oncology nurse provides clinical care and professional support for patients and medical teams. A registered nurse must train in radiation therapy with a specialized background in oncology and cancer care. Most radiation oncology nurses have completed a masters degree program with a cancer specific background, clinical expertise in cancer care, and mastery of chemotherapy administration. After passing Oncology Certification or Advance Oncology Certification, as well as earning a masters degree, a radiation oncology nurse may earn up to $68,160 yearly.

Radiation Therapist A radiation therapist is a highly skilled individual who works as part of a medical radiation oncology team using machines and apparatus to administer treatment to patients. Radiation therapists utilize linear accelerators to administer radiation treatment through a common procedure called external beam therapy. External beam therapy targets cancer cells using high energy X rays to shrink or eliminate cancerous tumors. Radiation therapists use radiation equipment, including x-rays or computer tomography to pinpoint size and location of cancerous growth/s. Radiation therapists then follow precisely designed cancer treatment plans centered specifically on each patient devised by radiation oncologists and radiation physicists to administer treatment. A radiation therapist aligns a linear accelerator set to the specifications developed by a team with correct positioning of a patient while recording details to administer treatment for a patient. A radiation therapist also counsels a patient regarding treatment plans, provide emotional support for a patient, and answer relevant questions. Radiation therapists closely monitor a patient’s physical condition during radiation treatments lasting 10 to 30 minutes. Radiation therapists record radiation dosing, area treated by the radiation, total amount of radiation used, and the patient’s response to treatment. Radiation therapists report findings to the medical team and also assist dosimetrists with calculating radiation dosages. In order to become a radiation therapist, candidates must complete an associate or bachelors program in radiation therapy or radiography and sucessfully pass a 12 month certificate program in radiation therapy. A background of core courses in radiation therapy procedures, human anatomy and physiology, physics, algebra, precalculus, computer science, and methodology assures success in this field. A radiation therapist has the potential to earn $75,450 yearly after successfully completing educational and certification requirements.

Radiologist Assistant Radiologist assistants perform diagnostic imaging examination through the use of x-rays, computed tomography, magnetic reasonace imagine, and mammography. Radiologist assistants help patients prepare for radiologic examinations by explaining the procedure, removing jewelry and other articles which do not allow x-rays to pass, and positioning the patients body for radiographs or x-ray images. Radiologist assistants are trained to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation and then use medical devices and instruments produce radiographs of appropriate density, detail, and contrast per physician’s orders. Radiologist assistants then record patient information, adjust and maintain equipment, and other duties within radiology departments. Computed tomography (CT) is also within the realm of radiologic technologists’ duties. CT scans provide cross sectional x-rays allowing for 3-D images using ionizing radiation. Radiologist assistants also use Magnetic Resonance (MR) imaging to produce non-ionizing cross sectional, 3-D images. The MR uses radio frequency to generate image contrast. Radiologists also utilize low dose x-ray systems to perform mammography producing images of the breast. An bachelors degree and certification are required to perform as a radiologist technician. Courses of study include classroom and clinical instruction in anatomy and physicology, patient care procedures, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, radiobiology, mathematics, chemistry, and pathology.

Radiologic Nurse – A radiologic nurse performs nursing duties within the specialty of radiology. A radiologic nurse is cross trained to care for patients during radiologic testing. Radiologic nurses provide care for acute, critical, and non-acute patients through administering medications from moderate sedation to anxiolysis, monitoring and managing patient crisis, and educating patients on radiologic procedures including: Computed Tomography (CT), Diagnostics (adult and pediatric x-ray), breast imaging, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Vascular/Neuro Interventional Radiology, Procedural Recovery Unit, Endovascular Clinic, Wound Care Clinic, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Radiologic nurses administer patient care and help to assess, diagnose, and treat a variety of disorders and disease. Radiologic nurses also may assist with radiation therapy for oncology diagnoses. A radiologic nurse must possess a Registered Nurse with a bachelors degree with additional training in anatomy, physicology, microbiology, chemistry, and radiology. A candidate with a bachelors degree in another field may enroll in an accelerated BSN program lasting 12 to 18 months. Masters programs lasting two years may also be required from potential employers. Supervised clinical training in radiology, as well as certification exams, are also required. Radiologic nurses generally earn a salary of $65,000 yearly after meeting training and certification requirements.

Radiologic Technologist A Radiologic Technologist is also known as a radiographer. A radiologic technologist is a medical professional who applies radioactive materials or ionizing radiation to patients to reduce or eliminate tumors and cancer cells. A radiologic technologist also creates medical images through the use of ultrasound, MRI, CT scans, X-rays and other equipment to determine anatomical problems, monitor fetal development during pregancy, or identify disorders and disease. A radiologic technologist reports findings to a team of other medical staff to assist in the diagnoses and treatment of illness or injury. A radiologic techonologist must attain a certificate, associates, or bachelor’s degree depending upon state and employer standards in an accredited Joint Review Committee on the Education of Radiologic Technology program. Many states require further certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. A radiologic technologist can earn a salary of $53,230 yearly after successfully completing educational and certification requirements.

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