A radiologist assistant (RA) is a radiography technician, or a radiographer who has taken additional education and certifications. They are able to accomplish advanced imaging jobs and will work under the supervision of a radiologist. In many cases, they will operate in quite an autonomous way, not being under the view of a radiologist, but merely operating under the auspices of a licensed physician who is a radiologist.
Today, the field of RA is a relatively new one, with fewer than fifty courses available to take around the United States at last count. More and more universities are expected to follow suit as radiology assisting becomes more accepted. More universities today are offering radiologist assistant courses than in the previous years. The courses are in some cases, still in development, as this is a reasonably new addition to the allied medical professions.
Educational Requisites for a Radiology Assistant
In order to become a radiologist assistant, you will be required to complete a radiology assistant course that has been recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT).
There are, as of in 2010, about 11 programs in the United States which are offered for the radiologist assistant program. These confer degrees at either the Bachelor’s degree or the Master’s degree level. There are no degree levels which are lower than a Bachelor’s degree available for the radiology assistant and currently no certificate programs exist.
In order to become a radiology assistant, you are required to complete the course and graduate in good standing in your class. Only those who are already a radiography technologist or technician, and who have several years of experience as a working technician are eligible to enroll in the accredited RA programs.
The curriculum of the degree programs for a radiologist assistant program typically require about two years of study to finish components of study will include: assessment of the patients; care and treatment plans; testing and diagnosis; information management; radio-biology; clinical radiology, pharmacology, legal aspects of health care, medical ethics and imaging.
If you elect to take a Master’s Degree level radiologist assistant course you will also be required to produce a master’s thesis in order to complete your course. In addition to the educational requirements to graduate from the accredited program of study, you may also need to add continuing education to remain certified and to continue in your employment.
Certification and Licensing Requirements for Radiologist Assistants
Aside from the graduation of an accredited degree program for your profession, the radiologist assistant must also take and pass an examination in order to practice. While not every state requires some kind of state licensing, there are accrediting bodies that require it for your profession. That being said, there are some states that require a state license, which currently takes place in11 different states.
There is a certification examination which is offered by the ARRT that must be taken in order to acquire your Registered Radiology Assistant certification.
The ARRT also requires that, like nurses, physicians and Paramedics, you be certified in Advance Cardiac Life Support, or ACLS, which is offered by the American Heart Association.
Your radiologist assistant licensing and registration must be renewed each year and you must maintain your radiology technician certification by renewing it every two years.
Your radiologist assistant job will be contingent on an annual renewal. They are also required to keep their technician certifications current by paying the renewal fees and filing application every two years. In order to perform as a radiologist assistant you must also be a radiologic technologist.
As a radiologist assistant, you will be performing many of the same procedures which are typically only done by the radiologist, who must be a licensed MD. You will typically assist or perform invasive techniques such as fluoroscopy, MRI, x-rays, and other examinations. The radiologist assistant will typically conduct these tests and then report the results to a licensed radiologist, who will make all final decisions as to the testing outcome.
The ASRT reports that the need for new graduate radiology assistants will continue to grow exponentially as the work continues to grow for the radiologists. There are currently not enough radiologists or radiologist assistants to keep apace of the work that is already being done. Being unable to keep pace with the vast numbers of people requiring diagnostic testing, the need for this health care field will continue to increase.
Currently the American Medical Association (AMA) – in reports published in 2009 and 2010 offered that radiologist assistants are becoming more popular. They further state that as of 2008, the licensed radiologist assistant can expect to receive about $100,000 USD per year in compensation for this employment position, depending on the geographic area in which they are practicing.
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