Anyone who has been injured has likely crossed paths with a radiology technician, as these are the people responsible for utilizing x-ray equipment and, occasionally, other medical imaging technology. At the most basic level, radiology technicians use fixed and movable x-ray imaging technology to record images of injured or unwell areas of a patient, and advanced practitioners in this field may also work with MRI gear and CAT scans. Radiology technicians not only take x-ray images, but also develop them and provide them to medical professionals who can act upon their findings.
Radiology technicians typically work in hospitals and dedicated radiology/imaging clinics and facilities. They are often presented with patients who are complaining about a health concern and receive specific instructions from medical professionals who have asked for the imaging to occur. Those instructions specify the patients' issue and the images sought typically focus on broken bones, but also may involve preliminary scans for occlusions, tumors, or other ailments.
Whatever the patient's need, the radiology technician helps calmly arrange for these images, which can involve moving the patient on an examination-style table to get the best-possible angles with the equipment. This may also involve making decisions on which tools in his/her arsenal should be used. Because patients may be hurt or ill during this process, these technicians must have great patience and excellent bedside manner while working.
Although radiology is generally associated with x-rays, some who use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CAT scan equipment are included among the ranks of radiology technicians. While the specific skills for different gear are unique, the broader outlines of these areas of work are similar.
Aspiring radiology technicians should pursue technical or vocational school training after high school. Due to the radiation concerns present in x-ray careers, it is of the utmost importance that these prospects be diligent regarding all safety precautions and the use of protective gear at all times. Radiology technicians generally work in clinical and hospital environments, and some are scheduled for shift work during daytime, evenings, and even overnight.
Radiology Technician Tasks
Use beam-restrictive devices and patient-shielding techniques to minimize radiation exposure to patient and staff.
Process exposed radiographs using film processors or computer generated methods.
Perform basic general x-rays of the chest, hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, knee, foot or ankle under supervision of physician.
Explain process and position patient for x-ray; adjusting restriction devices; moving and adjusting equipment to set exposure factors.
Determine patients' x-ray needs by reading instructions from physician.