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Essential Skills for Radiologists and Radiologic Technologists

A wall of MRI brain scans

Radiologists and technologists face significant challenges. Their work requires them to possess a wide variety of skills — interpersonal, analytical, and physical. Not only are they responsible for deftly operating highly complex scientific equipment, but they must also be able to interact with a number of different groups, including patients, surgeons, doctors, fellow technologists, and superiors.

They must be highly accurate and detail-oriented in addition to performing the physical demands of this role. These can include long hours on their feet, operating large pieces of equipment, supporting and assisting patients when necessary, and moving about a potentially large office or hospital. However, the necessity to possess all these skills is exactly what can make a radiology technologist’s career so interesting, meaningful, and rewarding. The following provides a closer look at each of several main skill categories one should possess, or be willing to develop, if they are to thrive as a radiological technologist.

Interpersonal Skills

Most radiologists and radiologic technologists will interact with a wide range of patient types across myriad demographic profiles during their daily work. One must expect, and be able to successfully manage, interactions that span variances in race, age, personality, career type, and social status. In addition, interactions will vary widely based on the type, severity, and duration of the patient’s condition or injury. From young children and their guardians to professional athletes recovering from an injury to senior citizens fighting chronic pain, a radiology technologist must have the interpersonal competency to not only interact with a wide variety of people but to be able to interact with them in times of (sometimes severe) pain or stress.

Math Abilities

Due to the highly scientific nature of the radiology field, technologists must possess mathematical aptitude to successfully perform their duties. Radiology courses will provide groundwork for the type of mathematical expertise that will be necessary on the job. Many radiologists’ and technologists’ regular duties will include measuring precise dosages, making calculations, reporting projections, and interpreting numbers and figures. An understanding of mathematical constructs, especially in physics and other scientific applications will greatly enhance a technologist’s efficiency and productivity.

Technical Skills

Radiologic technologists must have an aptitude for operating complex scientific equipment. Their role within the patient care team is to expertly manipulate pieces of technology to generate the most accurate information and imaging possible. It is crucial for any technologist to be able to effectively operate that equipment.
It is also important for a radiological technologist to keep themselves apprised of how their tools and the available technology adapts. In a quickly developing field like radiology, the technology available today may be substantially different in capability, process of use, or application than the technology available just a year ago. Technologists should expect to read journals, visit conferences or trade shows, attend trainings, and pursue other means of keeping their knowledge current throughout their careers.

Physical Conditioning and Stamina

The radiologic technologist must anticipate a fair amount of physical exertion in order to succeed in their role. In most settings, technologists will spend a majority of their work hours on their feet moving about large spaces, whether it is a hospital setting or a private practice. Technologists could also need to assist patients who are unable to perform certain physical functions. This could include helping them sit or stand, move around a room, enter or exit certain pieces of imaging equipment, mount or dismount a bed or stool, roll over, sit up, and more. In some cases, a technologist may need to lift or hold a patient up. As a radiologic technologist, it is important to have the physical stamina needed to perform these actions.

Accuracy

Radiology requires high levels of detail and accuracy. As a technologist, your focus and correctness is critical to obtaining accurate data, preserving the safety of the patient and all medical personnel involved, and correctly interpreting and analyzing results. Radiologists must maintain their level of focus even after long days, difficult patient interactions, the onset of fatigue, or high demands on their time and performance. Radiologists must make detail-orientation a priority and can hone those skills in non-radiological settings so that they are prepared for the rigors and detail-sensitive nature of radiology and are able to perform as required.
As a potential radiologist or radiologic technologist, use this list to begin to develop these skills in everyday life so you will be prepared for the field of radiology.

Learn More

The Adventist University of Health Sciences Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences online degree offers working imaging professionals an expanded opportunity to learn the technical, medical and people skills to help them continue their professional growth. Whether your goal is to provide a higher level of patient care or to advance your career by moving into management, education, consulting, or industry, the place to begin is with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences degree.

Recommended Readings:

Employment Outlook for Radiographers
From Analog to Digital Technology: The Evolving Role of the Medical Imaging Professional

Sources

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm#tab-4

https://www.arrt.org/about-the-profession/learn-about-the-profession

https://www.arrt.org/docs/default-source/discipline-documents/radiography/rad-competency-requirements.pdf?sfvrsn=20