Which Rad Tech Specialty Is Right for You?
By Cindy Mehallow | Monster Contributing Writer
Are you a hands-on person who likes a lot of patient contact? Or do you prefer to keep a little distance? Are you supercharged, or do you prefer a slower pace? Intrigued by watching live images, or are you content with still shots? Your answers to questions like these can help you choose a post-primary certification in radiologic technology (RT) that’s a good match for you.
Know the Options
Once you’ve obtained primary certification in radiography, nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy or (effective July 1, 2006) sonography, there are 12 post-primary advanced certifications to choose from. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists www.arrt.org grants specialty certificates in:
• Bone densitometry
• Breast sonography
• Cardiac-interventional radiography
• Cardiovascular-interventional radiography
• Computed tomography (CT)
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
• Quality management
• Radiologist assistant
• Vascular-interventional radiography
• Vascular sonography
Review the primary certifications required and preview the exam contents for the areas you’re interested in.
Next, add the human touch. “Speak with a professional from each specialty,” says Van Travelstead, RT, chief MRI technologist for the Southern Illinois Orthopedic Center. “Ask what they like or don’t like about their jobs.”
Spend some time on the job with a friend or colleague, and ask for hands-on experience, if allowed, suggests Michael McNeal, RT, a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer (RDCS) and registered cardiovascular technologist (RCVT), who is supervisor of the echocardiography lab at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Carefully observe the entire process, from patient care to paperwork, to make sure you can live with it. In addition, look at fields related to the area you think you’re interested in. Within sonography, for example, “some people love to do cardio, while others prefer vascular,” McNeal says.
Gauge the Workplace Environment
As resource coordinator, McNeal sees applicants who are lured by the glamour of working at a prestigious academic medical center. “You have to know yourself,” he cautions. “Some people come here and are overwhelmed by the heavy volume, fast pace and comprehensive nature of our studies.” McNeal was drawn to cardiovascular sonography while working on hypertension studies as a research assistant in the coagulation department of Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s. “I was intrigued by being able to see a moving heart,” he recalls. “Participating in research was also exciting. I still see references to [TOMHS, the Treatment of Mild Hypertension Study,] I worked on then.”