What is the Demand for Radiologist Assistants in the Health Care Industry?

Overview

Radiologist assistants, also known as radiologic technologists or radiological technicians, oversee patient care and radiological procedures. In other words, radiologist assistants conduct diagnostic imaging checks (i.e. x-rays) on patients. They also work under the direct supervision of physicians and other medical professionals. Radiologist assistants use a variety of progressive techniques, methods and assessments to diagnose illnesses. Job duties may include: evaluating patients, performing fluoroscopy, assisting pediatric, elderly, ill and/or disabled patients with difficult diagnostic procedures, communicating with a patient’s medical team (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.) and performing complex medical procedures (i.e. feeding tube placement and/or venous diagnostic examinations).

Radiologist assistants are required to know how to work a variety of radiological machines and equipment so they can provide accurate readings and results to the physicians. In addition, they must know how to effectively handle basic patient care so that physicians are able to spend more time with patients with more severe problems. It is important to be very careful and accurate when reading and analyzing results – a mistake can cost someone his/her life.

Related Reading: Accredited Radiology Degree Programs

The demand for radiologist assistants, in the healthcare industry, is steadily growing. As a radiologist assistant you have the opportunity to earn $76,000 or more a year (BLS). If you are wondering if radiologist assistants are in demand in the healthcare industry, you have come to the right place. This article will provide you with all of the information you need to make an informed decision on whether or not to enter the world of radiology technology.

Demand for Radiologist Assistants

The demand for radiologist assistants continues to increase. Assistants that have more than one certification in the field tend to have the most job opportunities. In addition, illnesses and an aging population increase the demand for radiologist assistants (those who can perform, read and analyze diagnostic tests and images). People are constantly getting sick and/or wounded and as along as the ratio of healthy people declines, the demand for x-rays and diagnostic tests will continue grow.

Furthermore, as physicians treat more and more people, the demand for radiologist assistants will increase because the physicians will need assistance (care, surgical procedures, examines, etc.) with the patients. Radiologist assistants are most in demand in hospitals, clinics and radiology facilities. They make the situation less stressful and chaotic by providing a calming and supportive environment for the patients and the physicians.

Career Outlook

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), radiology assistance jobs are expected to increase approximately 28% by the year 2020. As the baby boomers continue to age and break and fracture bones, the need for radiologist assistants (those who can perform and read x-rays) will continue to grow. In addition, as people age, their risk for arthritic diseases such as osteoporosis and brittle bones will require imaging for diagnosis and treatment. These assistants will also be needed to monitor and maintain imaging and diagnostic machines and equipment.

Radiologist assistance jobs in the healthcare industry are also expected to grow due to the shift towards outpatient services. Outpatient care is less costly and more convenient for patients (patients are able to have most tests performed outside of the hospital). As more and more people turn to outpatient facilities the need for radiologist assistance jobs will rise.

Industries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), there are approximately 220,000 radiology technology jobs available in the United States. As a radiologist assistant, you will primarily work in healthcare facilities, physician’s offices and imaging centers. It is important to note that, similar to other healthcare workers, your risk for infectious disease exposure will be heightened. You will also be required to stand on your feet for extended amounts of time. Moreover, you may be required to lift and turn disabled, elderly, incapacitated and/or ill patients. You will not have to worry about radiation danger because they are minimized by the use of protective gloves, aprons, and shielding devices.

Your exposure to radiation is strictly monitored by radiation-reading equipment. To elaborate, you are required to wear a radiation badge that measures how much radiation is in your location. Your levels are continuously recorded and monitored to make sure that you do not go over your lifetime dose of radiation. As a radiologist assistant, you will more than likely work full-time (40 hours a week) and because imaging needs vary, there is a possibility that you will be called in on emergencies and have to work evenings, holidays and/or weekends.

Job Functions

As a radiologist assistant, you will use a variety of diagnostic machines and equipment to assess and accurately diagnose patients. Your specialties will be: computed tomography, x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You may be referred to as a MRI technician or CT technician, depending on your job responsibilities. If you use low-dose x-ray machines to obtain images of breast tissue, you may be referred to as a mammographer.

As a radiologist assistant you will perform the following job functions:

  • Regulating the use of imaging equipment and machines
  • Following physician-orders on what areas of the body to x-ray
  • Preparing patients for diagnostic procedures (i.e. documenting patient medical histories and answering procedure-related questions)
  • Shielding patients from excess radiation
  • Positioning patients and machines in the correct location (in order to get an accurate image)
  • Operating computers and digital machines to get the requested images
  • Working with radiologists to read and analyze the images
  • Maintaining detailed patient medical records

Salary Range

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), you can expect to earn approximately $55,000 per year, as a radiologist assistant. If you fall in the lower 10%, you can expect to earn $36,000 per year and if you fall in the upper 10%, you can expect to earn 76,000 or more per year (bls.gov).

References:

  • Decker, F. (2013). What is a Radiologist Assistant? Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/radiologist-assistant-8764.html
  • United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Medical Assistants. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Medical-assistants.htm
  • United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Radiologic technologists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Radiologic-technologists.htm#tab-1
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