Diagnostic Radiology Careers & Education
Using X-ray vision to Cure
One of the most important and widespread medical technologies used in healthcare today is the x-ray. X-rays are used to diagnose diseases and injuries, and are often applied to treat some types of cancer. X-rays are usually interpreted by a radiologist, a doctor is specifically trained to understand medical images. By taking into account information from other examinations and medical tests, radiologists are able to recommend remedial treatments. Like any other physician, radiologists attend medical school and complete a residency program before they are licensed as doctors.
The Radiology Process: The Role of the Technician
Radiologists do not take the majority of x-rays. Instead, radiologic technicians produce most of the x-ray films that radiologists use to diagnose patients. Technicians prepare patients, take safety precautions, and develop x-ray film. X-ray technicians are also in charge of keeping patient records in order and maintaining radiologic equipment. Formal training programs to become a radiologic technician can last from 1-4 years, with two-year Associate degree programs being the most common.
Larger medical facilities will often hire a nurse with specific training in radiological procedures. These nurses can provide much-needed assistance and guidance for oncology patients undergoing radiation therapy. Because radiation therapy can take a dramatic toll on an individual's health, a nurse is necessary to monitor the progress and assist the radiologist or diagnosing physician in determining which treatments can be tolerated by the patient. Radiological nurses must graduate with a degree from an accredited nursing school, and pass a national licensing examination equivalent to that of any other nurse.