Radiologist Assistant Specialty Overview | Salary, Programs & Requirements

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Radiologist assistants are highly skilled and experienced radiographers have successfully completed additional programs and certification to allow them to work as radiologist extenders. Mostly they practice under the supervision of a fully certified radiologist when providing patient care in a diagnostic imaging environment. RAs as they are popularly known help to productivity and efficiency whenever the demand goes higher for medical imaging services.

Contents:

What Are the Duties of a Radiologist Assistant?

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Here are the three areas of their responsibility:

  • RAs take the leading role when it comes to patient assessment and management. There various duties in this area, which include assessing if the patient is well prepared for a medical procedure, requesting for patient’s consent before the beginning of an examination, answering any question from the patient or his/her family and finally adapting examination protocols to help improve diagnostic quality. These professionals can also act as patient advocate, in ensuring that the patient receives the best care when they’re in the radiology section or clinic.
  • Radiologist assistants perform a number of selected examinations and procedures under a close supervision of a certified radiologist. In most cases the level of supervision depends on the type of examination.
  • RAs are also responsible for checking image quality, making some image observations and finally forwarding sending those observations to the senior radiologist. The supervising radiologist will provide the final written report and an interpretation or sometimes a diagnosis.

As an RA, you must have excellent communication skills and also the ability to interact with the physicians and patients in a fast-paced working environment. If you’re a student, you will be expected to use your advanced knowledge to evaluate and compare the findings from different imaging techniques and give the course of action for the right diagnoses and treatment. However, unlike other medical assistant jobs that need constant supervision when dealing with patients, RAs are normally left alone and are trusted to take quality images of their patients. This helps radiologists to move with the treatment and other advanced procedures since their assistant can handle the images process, hence shortens the waiting time for patients. This is a rewarding profession that is fast-growing and gives students an opportunity to begin after a few years of learning and achieving proper certification.

Radiologist assistants are well-trained to work with x-ray machines and other imaging equipment to produce the best images for doctors and nurses. RAs are also involved in preparing the final reports and diagnosis. This offers some level of autonomy and independence for RAs in their workplace.

Can You Begin as a Radiological Technician?

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Well, ideally a radiologist assistant position is basically an advanced version of a radiological technician. Some programs such as 4-year degree course, don’t require you to have some work experience before you enter the program. Others definitely ask for a 1-year experience working as a radiological technician. Because of the increase in population and growing demand for imaging procedures, the position of radiologist assistant as become a popular path for many students who want to finally become a licensed radiologist. RAs do not necessarily require a 4-year degree, but proper licensing and experience are major concerns for radiology assistants.

Benefits of Being a Radiologist Assistant

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RAs help to improve patient access to fast and timely radiologic care by assisting in workflow and capacity. A radiologist assistant can:

  • Help relieve the workload in a radiology clinic by performing examinations when the radiologist is not available to perform.
  • Increase the productivity by performing more invasive procedures sometimes under the supervision of a licensed radiologist.
  • Improve efficiency by allowing a licensed radiologist to spend more time evaluating and interpreting the image, followed by diagnosis.

A Radiologist Assistant Licensure

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RAs are usually licensed by the state where they practice, which is similar to other licensing programs such as radiologic technicians. The society of radiology technologists in America has come up with model legislation together with regulations that provide the guide on RA licensure.

Do you need certification to work as radiologist assistant?

Most health facilities require all RAs to be certified by relevant authority – ARRT. Certification is easier when a student applies for higher education program or other additional training to prepare for advanced radiography methods. States do require RAs to renew their license once in every few years. The good news is that ARRT certification can be transferred from one state to another. If you’re trained and you’ve begun to work in one state, you can make a big move to another and utilize your skills gained from your other employment.

Do You Have to Complete Your Clinicals to Work as a Radiologist Assistant?

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Yes, working in any medical field of radiology, clinicals are a must. Most of the medical facilities will not accept candidates who’ve not completed their clinicals. After completing your clinicals, you will be allowed to do your ARRT exam. It’s important to complete your clinicals and have sufficient time to prepare for your exam if you’re planning to work right after. It is also possible to complete the program and then go for your clinicals. Many schools and colleges are affiliated with local clinics, hospitals or doctors’ offices, which allow students to conduct their clinicals. The majority of the programs require students to complete the coursework at the beginning or first portion of the course and then proceed to clinicals for the other half of the course. Some students have previous experience in radiology, and, therefore, they’re able to set up their clinicals with their previous employers. These clinicals are usually approved by your radiology assistant program and in most cases they do. Sometimes you may find yourself with a limited choice of places to complete your clinicals since schools work with a limited number.

Can Anyone Become a Radiologist Assistant?

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Almost anyone can become an RA and the biggest concern for many employers is proper certification, experience and licensing. Many states require one to have a license to work as an RA, but some health facilities may require a candidate to have a minimum of 1-year experience before being hired on a full-time basis. Radiology assistant must attend a 2 or 4-year programs. Many traditional schools and colleges offer associates and bachelor’s degree in the field of radiology.

The Right Path to Becoming a Radiologist Assistant

Radiology assistant is an advanced-level radiographer whose duties include performing different diagnostic examinations such x-rays and CAT scans. Below are some the career requirements.

  • Bachelor’s degree — Must be in radiology field
  • Licensure and Certification — Many states require RAs to be licensed. They must be certified ARRT which is the relevant licensing authority for radiologists.
  • Training — One must undergo through the approved training to qualify as a radiologic technologist — also popularly referred as a radiographer.
  • Required skills — A radiology assistant must have the knowledge of working with various medical software, which includes electronic medical records, diagnostic imaging, film processing, data entry and information management, and also information retrieval software. You are also expected to have good skills in positioning radiological equipment such as x-ray film processors, screens, units, converters and archiving systems, and hypodermic needles.

Radiologist Assistant Bachelor’s Degree

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The degree program in radiology technology involves imaging and radiation sciences and is designed to prepare students to successfully compete for radiologist assistant jobs. This position requires a candidate who has advanced certification, technical skills, management and supervisory skills. The degree is also well designed for certified individuals in diagnostic ultrasound, nuclear medicine, radiologic technology and radiation therapy. The initial phase of the program is actually fulfilled by the entrance prerequisites. The other half offers a relevant curriculum that will students to achieve their professional goals.

Learning outcomes

Degree holder should possess below skills and abilities;

  • Use core competencies learned from the field of study in order to work successfully in the areas of imaging and radiation sciences
  • Ability to demonstrate in-depth educational preparation by successfully completing a capstone project.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of leadership, as well as ethical and economic issues relating to your field of study.
  • Passing your national certification exams in the elective or chosen courses.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to continue acquiring more skills and competency through further training.

Degree requirements

A student must have the following to be eligible;

  • National certification in either of the following; radiotherapy, radiologic technology, diagnostic medical sonography or nuclear medicine technology.
  • Successful completion of the following subjects with a minimum grade of the point of 2.5 from accredited college; intermediate algebra, humanities courses, English composition (college level), 2 subjects in physiology and human anatomy or magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography and social sciences course.

Online Radiologist Assistant Degree Course

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Fully online degree course in radiology assistant is hard to find, but hybrid programs are available where students are required to do and submit their coursework online. An Online degree in radiologic studies helps students to prepare effectively for advancement in their career as radiologists. This program allows students to discuss different concepts such as research methodology, medical law, and terminology. An online degree in radiology is a science intensive program and deals with various applications of radiologic concepts in real life situations. Since the degree program is not entirely online program, the online component of the program allows students to access core materials and also syllabi using online message boards. It’s important to note that students must be certified by ARRT before starting the course. The degree program can be completed within 1 year of the study.

Course Details

The coursework mostly focuses on the initial level of the course which is introductory of radiologic studies for purposes of acclimating students to the real life in the medical field. However, due to a large amount of work involved, students can order relevant textbooks, even those studying online.

Clinical Practice

Instructors will educate the students on the latest methods and techniques of infection control, patient education and problem management in a medical environment. In addition, students are also educated on various since they’re expected to deal with multi-cultural patients.

Radiation Therapy

Students will learn clinical practices associated with the radiation therapy course along with different modalities. Disease assessment, advanced physics, and radiobiology are also taught in detail.

Health Law

Well, in this course, students are introduced to the legal aspect relating to medical field and specifically the laws affecting radiology. The legal concepts that are discussed in details include administrative law, malpractice ethics and more.

Radiologist Assistant Master’s Degree Program

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Masters degree in radiologic studies impacts necessary skills required become a radiologist assistant. Students will learn advanced research skills and medical imaging techniques. This program is quite demanding and highly science-intensive since the most courses deal with medical practices and terminology. To enroll in this program, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Admission to this program is also highly competitive, even for those intending to study online.

It’s possible to complete this program in 2 years when done on a full-time basis. You should also note that in-person clinical hours are mandatory for this program. Instructors will use pre-recorded videos on some lectures. These videos are available on the radiology department message board. In addition, those learning through online platform can communicate with other students and their professor through email, message boards, and even phone.

What to expect in your master’s degree program?

Most colleges recommend students to pursue this program on a full-time basis since its time consuming and more advanced compared to bachelor’s degree. Some of the subjects you will learn include:

  • Pathophysiology

Students are taught about the main body systems and different biological reactions to various diseases. Students are expected to gain depth knowledge on medical imaging capabilities and procedures related to imaging. Instructors will educate students on imaging techniques associated with the major body systems like respiratory system.

  • Research Methods

In this subject, students are required to develop vital research skills through the research project and finally analyzing medical literature. Instructors will also teach students how well to adapt methodology as a result of the ever-changing technological climate.

  • Radiology and Pharmacology

In this course, students will learn in-depth radiology and also medication for certain diseases. This unit is quite involving and will require the students to spend more time understanding the concepts.

Masters of science degree in radiology helps you to propel in your career advancement. Upon successful completion of the program, you can become a licensed radiology working in a local hospital, health center with radiology department or private practice.

Radiologist Assistant Average Salary

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There are several factors to consider when evaluating salary ranges for radiologist assistant jobs. Some of these factors include the nature of work, experience, and place of work. These factors also determine the salary ranges and probably the key factor among them is your experience. Radiologists play very important role and the diagnosis they give to patients is determined by how competent they’re in the job. Currently, the demand for licensed radiology assistants keep rising and the salary for this position is quite promising. Below we will look at different salary ranges, which depend on the experience level.

  • Entry level/Starting salary – $80,000 – $90,000
  • Average salary – $100,000
  • Highest salary – $ 110,000

As you can see from the figures above, radiologist assistants are paid well. Furthermore, they’re among the best highly paid professional in the radiology field. According to market surveys, the average for a radiology assistant is $100,000. However, this is slightly compared to that of a licensed radiologist. Salary range also depends on the location of work and your level of experience, and mostly the salary varies around the average value. At the entry level, radiology assistants should expect to earn between $80,000 and $90,000.

For those with some years of experience, they can earn up to or above $110,000 annually. Some of the highest paid radiologists work in private hospitals, then followed by those working in many government hospitals and finally those working in NGO — non-governmental organizations.

Salary according to your education

You can opt to get master’s degree to climb up the ladder in your profession. The more education certificates you have in radiology field, the higher the salary you will earn in addition to your experience. Furthermore, you can also make more money when you work for a diagnostic or medical laboratory. Also, salaries are affected by location, depending on the state where you’re looking. In some states, the salary is higher.

Diagnosing the right medical condition can be impossible in the absence of medical imaging techniques. The vital evidence required for most medical investigations can only be provided by radiologists. A radiology assistant carries out the job of collecting evidence by performing various imaging techniques. There is a wide range of duties performed by a radiologist assistant. They take care of patients before and after the medical imaging procedure. Radiology assistants are required to produce accurate and clear images of the patient’s body, which enables the physicians to easily diagnose and treat patients. RAs work with sophisticated equipment such as mammography, x-ray, positron emission tomography and computerized axial tomography.

SOURCES:

www.radiologyassistant.org

study.com

www.bellevuecollege.edu

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