Medical technology careers are on the rise and demand for medical imaging professionals are projected to increase even further in the coming years. Choosing a course of study in radiologic technology is a strategic move and will allow entry into a growing field. With several diverse subcategories and a number of more finely tuned specialties available within the field of radiologic technology, imaging degrees will not only propel their bearers into a widening field full of opportunity but will also make available a wide range of specialties, locations, and job types from which to choose.
Medical Imaging Technology Outlook: Favorable Trends
A few trends have been identified by studies, labor bureaus, and radiologic technology associations that cast the future of radiologic technology over the next five to ten years in a favorable light and bode well for those entering the field. The first of these is the continuing increase of our population’s median age. As our population ages, demand for diagnostic medical imaging tests will grow. Already, according to a report released by Merritt Hawkins (a physician placement firm), almost half of the medical imaging scans conducted in a given year are for patients over the age of 65. As the senior age bracket continues to swell, authorities anticipate the demand for medical imaging will also grow.
Another trend that indicates favorable conditions for new medical imaging technologists is the aging population of currently active radiographers and imaging professionals. According to a survey conducted by the American College of Radiology, 22 percent of radiographers and imaging professionals are between the ages of 56 and 65. This represents a large portion of the field that will retire over the coming five to ten years, and the number of available replacements has remained lean over the past several graduation cycles. These two factors indicate an imminent need for new professionals and make conditions extremely favorable for those entering the field. Graduates can anticipate multiple openings to choose from when they search for positions, as well as the perks that come with being in demand (higher wages, better benefits and arrangements, etc.). As with all job markets, new job availability will fluctuate based on location, specialties, and a variety of other factors. New technologists who are willing to be flexible in their preferences as they begin should have little difficulty in securing a first position and thus being strategically poised to hone their work as these trends continue to develop.
Add to these anticipated shifts the fact that imaging techniques and computer technology are becoming staple procedures for an ever-widening spectrum of demographics and ailments, and it quickly becomes clear that the radiologic technology field could experience major growth in the coming years. Medical imaging is being increasingly utilized in applications such as screening for various types of cancers, diagnosing concussions, locating blood clots and tumors, and examining musculoskeletal injuries. Noninvasive imaging is becoming vitally important and thus its skilled technologists will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.
Subspecialties Available within the Radiologic Technology Field
There are many different avenues a radiologic technology student can pursue within the field. Oftentimes concentrations look much more attractive to potential employers as they evaluate candidates for an open position. They will also allow a general radiologic technologist to hone his/her focus on areas in which they are the most passionate. Before one decides on an advanced modality, they should explore the differences in responsibilities/duties, typical setting, and other pertinent details so they can make an informed choice.
This type of computer technology is digitally focused and will require strong computer operation skills. CT technologists operate large equipment systems and work at a fast pace. They may also engage with more patients in a given day than radiographers in other fields because CT scan procedures take less time than other imaging methods.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MRI operators work with a large spectrum of patients and collect imaging to help diagnose a variety of conditions. They often serve demographics that differ from those that normally receive CT scans because MRIs do not subject the patient to radiation, and are thus favored in cases where the patient may be uniquely susceptible to radiation exposure (i.e. children, pregnant mothers, etc.). Radiographers who concentrate in MRI or CT technology may need to focus their job search on larger hospitals and more urban areas that treat the volume of patients necessary to make owning the large equipment feasible.
Of all imaging technologists may spend the most time on their feet. Because X-ray procedures utilize less radiation than CT scans, X-ray technologists may anticipate working with greater numbers of young and elderly patients than those who perform CT scans. X-ray specialists may also be more likely to find jobs in rural or suburban settings due to the relative availability of the equipment necessary as compared with more expensive types of imaging machines.
The career outlook within the medical imaging field is steadily improving and as one considers pursuing a degree in radiologic technology or a concentration in one of its sub-branches, they can be confident that they are entering a field that will be full of opportunity for the foreseeable future.
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.