CT techs’ credentialing efforts fail to catch up with demand

June 13, 2007

More radiologic technologists are working in CT than ever before. About three out of five, however, are working without credentials that certify they are qualified to perform CT scans, according to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

More radiologic technologists are working in CT than ever before. About three out of five, however, are working without credentials that certify they are qualified to perform CT scans, according to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

In May, the ARRT conducted a survey among the almost 250,000 radiologic technologists in the U.S. The surprising discovery was that almost 29,000 of the nearly 50,000 who reported working in CT are not registered in CT.

"It's a dubious distinction for a category that has seen dramatic growth and offers huge career potential," said Bettye G. Wilson, an ARRT trustee from Birmingham, AL.

About 2000 technologists added a CT credential in 2006. Their experience could help future candidates for CT certification and their employers go through a smoother registration process. An update on CT credentialing efforts will be available at the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators meeting to be held in Orlando in July, ARRT officials said.

The increasing number of hybrid imaging systems combining PET or SPECT with CT is placing many nuclear medicine technologists in the same predicament, according to Eileen O. Smith, who has run the CT workshop for technologists at the annual Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting for the past four years. The CT program was implemented to provide nuclear medicine technologists the education required to step into a CT lab and start to do CT scans.

Many technologists who are not under the requirement of law in their state are performing CT without the imprimatur of the advanced practical exam, one reason leading to the CT course. Another is the possibility that Congress may soon establish national accreditation standards for technologists in all fields and imaging modalities, Smith said.

In January and March, the House and Senate, respectively, introduced the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and the Radiation Therapy bills. If passed, this legislation would require those performing medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures to meet federal standards to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

As nuclear medicine technologists get more involved in hybrid and fusion imaging, nationwide licensure will add value to all imaging professionals, said Smith, director of special project development at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders and Molecular Imaging.

"Standards for education and practice, at least for nuclear medicine technologists, will be the same across the board from institution to institution," she said.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Nuclear medicine techs love job but see changes coming

Fusion poses training challenge for specialists

PET/CT need not become a medical battleground

Don't overlook PET technologists