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Radiologist Assistant

A radiologist assistant (RA) is a high level radiologic technologist (RT) who works under the close supervision of a radiologist to perform and assist with advanced tasks. Specifically, an RA performs radiologic examinations, is involved in patient management and evaluation, and assists the radiologist with invasive procedures. The RA also may be responsible for making preliminary judgments about image quality, making initial observations of images, and forwarding those observations to the supervising radiologist.

Although radiologist assistants are able to perform functions beyond those of a radiologic technologist, the position holds certain limitations. An RA may make initial observations of images but may not draft an official written interpretation. Radiologist assistants may not perform selected radiology procedures without radiologist supervision.

The RA position is a new addition to the diagnostic radiology team. Currently, there are 10 radiologist assistant programs in the country, six offering master's degrees. Radiologist assistants complete an academic program and a radiologist-supervised clinical internship. An RA must be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Radiologic Technologist

The radiologist usually receives assistance from a radiologic technologist. Primarily, a technologist operates the radiographic equipment to produce images. This involves explaining procedures to reassure the patient and obtain cooperation, positioning the patient on the examining table, and adjusting immobilization devices to obtain optimum views of specific body areas. The technologist moves the imaging equipment into position and adjusts equipment controls to set exposure based on knowledge of the procedure and on established guidelines. To prevent unnecessary radiation exposure during some procedures, a technologist uses radiation protective devices, such as lead shields, and limits the size of the x-ray beam. The technologist may also operate mobile x-ray equipment to obtain images in the emergency room, operating room, or at the patient's bedside. Technologists assist radiologists in the use of general radiology, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound (US). Depending on the type of radiologic procedure, one of the following may be assisting the radiologist:

     CT technologist
     MRI technologist
     Sonographer (ultrasound)
     Radiographer (x-ray)

Usually, a technologist has undergone two years of formal training or two - four years in an academic environment, leading to a certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree. With additional training, a technologist can specialize and work almost exclusively with specialized radiographic equipment. Radiologic technologists are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. To remain registered, technologists must complete continuing education credits.

Radiologic Nurse

The larger medical centers may employ a radiological nurse who provides for the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the patient who is undergoing tests or treatment in a radiology department. The radiologic nurse usually develops and manages a care plan to help patients understand procedures and, later, recuperate from the procedures. This may also include working with a patient's family.

The nurse can perform examinations or carry out preventive health measures within the prescribed guidelines and instructions of the radiologist. In addition, the nurse can record physician findings and discuss cases with either the radiologist or other health care professionals. Often, a radiologic nurse will assist during examinations or therapy. Radiologic nurses must have graduated from an accredited nursing school. Each nurse must also pass a national licensing examination.

Radiologist (MD) Careers Radiology Technicians
Subspecialities in Radiology Other Careers in Radiology
Nuclear Medicine in Radiology Radiation Therapy
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