So, Imaging Technologist, You Want to Be Considered a Medical Professional

February 10, 2012

When it comes to the hierarchy of the medical community, technologists have not fully earned the respect they deserve.

Let’s face it, over the years imaging technologists have struggled to gain a reputable identity in the healthcare field. When it comes to the hierarchy of the medical community, technologists have not fully earned the respect they deserve. 

The general perception of technologists by physicians, administration, nursing, and the general public has often been that of button-pushers. In the past decade, not only has the technology become much more complex, but the patient care involved with many of the current procedures has put additional demands on the technologists. Staffing shortages and the call for higher productivity have required today’s health professionals to become more proficient in areas outside of the technical training specific to medical imaging.

It would be easy to assume that once you have earned your registered status, your training is complete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your status, for instance, as an RT, RDMS, RVT, MR, M, is just your ticket to begin your training. The demands of a registered status in medical imaging require that professionals maintain their level of training through continuing education (CE). Requirements vary from state to state, and by specific registry, but they are a necessary part of our profession.

It is advised that technologists select courses that will aid them in their career as well as elevate their status within the medical community. The knowledge gained through your required CE activities can be beneficial in helping you in areas not necessarily studied in your schooling. This knowledge can then be used to train subordinates, educate peers, or assist in patient care. Educational requirements come in many forms, but the best opportunities are those that enhance the education of the participating technologist. All continuing education courses lend some form of value to you as a medical professional.

The current trend by payers requires more and more credentialing by providers in order to receive reimbursement. The playing field is also being leveled, as private physician practices, independent imaging facilities, and hospitals are expected to meet many of the same requirements for credentialing.

A large part of that process currently involves technologists, particularly those who operate equipment in their departments, to become credentialed in those specific areas before compensation can occur. This can even apply to some of the more advanced fields, like ultrasound, where registered technologists performing certain abdominal, breast, vascular, and other procedures, are now permitted to administer the billing.

As we proceed through the rather difficult and uncertain healthcare environment, the business experts at Medical Imaging Specialists will always stress the importance of advanced registries and CE experience. There is the perception that technologists who consistently meet their expectations, and strive to better themselves through CE, will also excel within their career. We know that is not necessarily true. Therefore, identifying yourself as one of those technologists should be the goal of everyone in the medical imaging field, unless you are content to become phased out for a newer model.

David Rushing, RT(R), MR, is operations manager for Medical Imaging Specialists. He has 19 years of experience specializing in radiology program development, implementation, and management. He has organized several mobile MRI programs for hospitals, served as hospital radiology department manager, and managed a full service free standing imaging center.