Job Description of a Xray Technician
An x-ray technician, also known as a radiologic technologist, is a health care professional whose job is to take x-rays of patients and produce films that aid doctors in diagnosing patients. In addition to taking the x-rays, these healthcare professionals are required to do things like readying patients for the upcoming procedure, positioning patients properly for the exam, as well as also knowing how to utilize the x-ray equipment in a way that gets the best images possible. Also a key concern is being responsible for protecting themselves and the patients they serve from excessive radiation exposure.
Working as an x-ray tech can be a very satisfying career. Although some people may think that technicians spend most of their time working only with diagnostic and imaging machines, they would be mistaken; x-ray technicians frequently work with patients and other health care professionals. They also may come into contact with very nervous and anxious patients who need someone to calmly and compassionately help them through the procedure; thus, to succeed as an x-ray technician, you need to have a desire to interact with people as well as a good bedside manner. Successful radiologic techs will also have excellent problem solving skills and a good understanding and scientific knowledge of the human body.
One thing that is important to understand is that x-ray technicians are not radiologists. A radiologist is a physician that utilizes x-rays and other imaging technologies to diagnose and treat medical problems. An x-ray technician only produces the imaging used by the radiologist; x-ray techs are not allowed to provide diagnoses to patients based on such images. However, they are usually trained to spot problems that require immediate attention. If they find such a problem, they will notify the radiologist, who will confirm the diagnosis and take action. If the attending technician doesn’t see anything requiring urgent attention, then it may take several days for a radiologist to assess the images and deliver results.
It’s also important to realize that these professionals are not the people responsible for working on or fixing the actual x-ray equipment; the correct title for those individuals is “x-ray repair technician.” Typically x-ray technicians are only responsible for setting up, cleaning and calibrating x-ray equipment. Although the title “x-ray technician” is commonly used for the people in charge of taking x-rays, there is a minor distinction between someone who is actually an x-ray technician as opposed to an x-ray technologist. An x-ray technician and an x-ray technologist have similar duties, but an x-ray technologist may have more training than a technician plus supervisory responsibilities. Its a slight difference, but one that many professionals find important especially in this career choice.
Where Do X ray Techs Work?
X-ray technicians don’t just work in hospitals; they can also be found in private doctors’ offices, dental offices, convalescent homes and diagnostic imaging centers. Some x-ray professionals are based in one location while others may travel to patients and bring along the diagnostic equipment in a special van. No matter where these folks work, some things remain consistent across the board. For example, they need to have plenty of stamina as this career can be physically demanding. Most positions require the tech to move or lift disabled patients and to adjust heavy machinery…not to mention that they can expect to be on their feet for long periods of time.
Working with Radiation
When humans deal with radiation, there is always a risk of being exposed to too much radiation and becoming ill. Because of this, an important part of an x-ray technician’s job is to make sure that neither the technician nor the patients are exposed to too much radiation. Protective gear used by both the healthcare tech and patients include lead aprons, gloves and shielding devices. Because radiologic technolgists are exposed to far more radiation than a patient who has been x-rayed twice in the past year, they also wear badges that measure radiation levels in the room where the x-rays are done. In addition to this, they must keep careful records of how much radiation they have been exposed to over the years.
Required Training and Education for X Ray Technicians
To become an x-ray technician, you will need education and formal training. For some beginning positions, all they need is a certificate. Others may choose to pursue additional education and training leading to an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. There are hundreds of educational programs offering various radiography degrees in the United States, so interested students have plenty of options. Most states also require x-ray technicians to be licensed, and some employers prefer to hire x-ray professionals that are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Once you’ve gained experience as an x-ray technologist, it’s possible to become a specialist in related fields. For example, you could expand your skillset and be trained to do things like CT scans, mammography, sonography, fluoroscopic imaging and MRIs.
A talented x-ray technician is worth his or her weight in gold; getting good x-rays is crucial to diagnosing patients correctly. Although they often may not know what eventually happens to their patients, they are proud to have been a part of the diagnosis and treatment phases. You too can have this satisfaction by learning more about this career. Please consider becoming a valuable part of a medical team by choosing a career as an x-ray technician.