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Rad Technologists Advance with Distance Learning

Rad Technologists Advance with Distance Learning

By Cindy Mehallow | Monster Contributing Writer

For working professionals who want to move into or up within the hot field of medical imaging, there’s a new game in town — Internet-based distance-learning programs. Many colleges offer online programs that allow practicing radiologic technologists (RTs) to complete a bachelor’s degree. A unique graduate program helps career changers fast-track into entry-level technologist positions. Another allows students to obtain a PhD.

Distance-learning programs offer convenience and major flexibility — a key concern for those already working full-time. And no geographic limitations means prospective students can choose from any accredited program that meets their particular interests, no matter where it’s located. For example, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) School of Allied Health Professions enrolls students from Florida to Washington in its completely online RT-to-BSRT degree-completion program.

Chance to Advance

For many practicing RTs, completing a bachelor’s degree is essential for career advancement.

“Graduates of our RT-to-BSRT degree-completion program are prepared to move to a higher level in education or administration where they are currently employed,” explains Karen F. Nichols, MSA, RT(M), UNMC’s distance-education coordinator.

While students have up to five years to complete their degree, it’s possible to finish in as little as one year. More often, students carry four to six credits per semester and finish in two years.

Costs include tuition at $160 per credit hour, textbooks and course materials, as well as registration, application processing and other fees. Employers subsidize or pay most course costs in full, Nichols says.

Other schools offering online bachelor’s-degree completion programs in medical imaging include Clarkson College, the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, Midwestern State University, Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Expanding Education While Working

While many RT programs appeal to career changers, Boston’s MGH Institute of Health Professions (MGHIHP) designed its post-baccalaureate certificate in medical imaging specifically to attract bachelor’s-prepared candidates into the profession. The 17-month, 46-credit graduate-level program includes alternating blocks of online courses, followed by blocks of evening labs and then blocks of full-time day clinicals.

“The blocks have been structured to maximize students’ ability to continue working on a part-time basis,” says Richard Terrass, MEd, RT, clinical assistant professor and director of MGHIHP’s medical-imaging graduate program. “Many of our students have been able to maintain full-time employment through at least the first eight months of the program.”

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