With the advent of new technologies that make medical treatment more effective, a host of imaging procedures have become commonplace. X-rays are just one such procedure, and though x-ray technicians, as radiologic technologists, are usually educated in multiple types of imaging, there are also separate jobs with specific specialties. These include people who image the heart and surrounding vascular system, people who use radioactive substances to detect abnormalities, and therapists who use radiation to treat cancer.
People in this profession use imaging technology to help doctors diagnose problems with the heart or blood vessels, including issues like heart disease and blood clots. The job includes preparing patients for procedures, taking medical histories, performing ultrasounds and other noninvasive procedures, and analyzing images for quality. Together with the physician, a cardiovascular technician will help diagnose issues by detecting differences between normal and abnormal images. They might also assist in more serious, invasive procedures, such as inserting catheters. This might be done if there is a concern that there is a block in the blood vessels leading to the heart – in such cases, a small balloon may be inserted to release the block. The technologist’s main job during invasive procedures is to sterilize and prepare the area of insertion and monitor the patient’s vitals during the process. It is also their job to keep track of patient records. Some technicians are trained on the job, but most receive education through an associate’s degree program. The average income is $49,410.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
These technologists use imaging to highlight areas of the body that may contain an abnormality. This is mainly done by preparing radioactive substances and administering them to patients prior to the scan. Such substances are called radiopharmaceuticals. They give off radiation and help reveal abnormalities because areas that contain problems will have higher or lower concentrations of radioactivity. Tumors can often be detected through this method. The job includes preparing the patient for the procedure by explaining the process and answering questions, following safety procedures to protect everyone involved from radiation exposure, ensure that machines are safe and functioning properly, prepare radioactive drugs, monitor the patient for unusual drug reactions, operate the scanning equipment, and keep detailed patient records. Nuclear medicine technologists may be trained in anything from a certificate to a bachelor’s degree program, and in some states they must be licensed. On average they make about $68,560 a year.
Radiation therapists help treat cancer and other serious illnesses in patients by administering radiation treatments. They typically function as part of an oncology team that also includes physicians who specialize in radiation therapy, oncology nurses, radiation physicists who calibrate linear accelerators, dosimetrists who calculate the correct doses of radiation. The linear accelerators, or the machines used to treat radiation, direct high-energy x-rays at cancer cells in order to shrink and hopefully remove tumors. Radiation therapists’ duties include examining machines for safety and proper function, explaining treatments to patients, following safety procedures, examining x-rays to determine treatment areas, monitoring computer programs, operating equipment, and keeping detailed patient records. Most therapists have either an associate’s of bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy, and in some states need to be licensed. Average income per year is $74,980.