Radiologist assistants are radiographers in advanced levels who can conduct diagnostic imaging procedures, such as X-rays and CAT scans. They also evaluate and provide patient care and help radiologists in conducting both invasive and noninvasive imaging procedures. Aspiring radiologist assistants have to go through lots of training to qualify for their position.
Radiologist assistant degree
To become a radiologist assistant, one needs to complete a radiologist assistant degree approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The organization reported that there were 11 approved programs as of 2010 offered by universities in varying levels of bachelor’s degree, post-baccalaureate certificate, and master’s degree. Radiologic technologists who want to become a radiologist assistant with several years of experience can get accepted into an accredited radiology assistant program.
Most radiology assistant programs can be completed in two years. These programs usually include classroom instructions and a clinical internship under the supervision of an experienced radiologist. Typical course topics include patient care and assessment, diagnostic testing and imaging, pharmacology, health information management, radiobiology, health care law, clinical radiology, and medical ethics. Completing such program means getting a Bachelor of Science in Radiological Sciences.
Master’s degree programs usually require students to write a thesis. Radiologist assistants must earn continuing education credits to stay current with their profession.
Radiologist assistant licensed and certification
After completing a radiology assistant program, graduates must prepare for the Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA) certification exam provided by the ARRT. The organization also requires an Advanced Life Support (ALS) certification from the American Heart Association.
In the case of radiologic technologist students, they may submit their application to ARRT for the certification exam three months before their graduation. If the organization approves of the application, the students will be contacted and given their exam schedule. They will be given 90 days to take a computer-based exam. Official scores will be released three weeks after the exam was taken. If they get a passing score, they will be allowed to use the title Radiologic Technologists. If they failed, they will have two more chances of taking the exam until they pass.
Aside from the ARRT certification, radiology assistants may also earn certification from the Certification Board for Radiology Practitioner Assistants. However, this exam is only available to ARRT-registered radiology assistants and RA program graduates.
Radiologist assistant skills
Radiology assistants also need to be skillful in certain areas to do their job well. They need excellent communication skills and great social skills to handle patients and physicians in a fast-paced and stressful environment. They must have great attention to detail and know the latest knowledge in imaging procedures. Radiology assistants must have great teamwork spirit since they need to work with a radiology team. However, they must also be independent when needed, especially when they have to make preliminary evaluations, interpreting results, and making reports.