There are a number of skills you need to excel in this career path. Many of them you can learn in school. For example, even if you start out knowing nothing about math or science, you can study these subjects, which will be built into your curriculum, and come out at graduation with a solid aptitude in these areas. Others, such as your ability to follow instructions, pay attention to detail, and comfort patients, are slightly more difficult to learn. If you are naturally strong in these areas you will have an easier time in the job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop new abilities. By taking detailed notes in class, listening attentively to your instructors and following their directions, and practicing relating to classmates, you can become stronger in these areas.
You must be detail-oriented.
As a radiological technician, you must be able to follow instructions very closely. You will be given instructions from a radiologist or other supervisor in order to get the exact images needed. These images will be used to diagnose a patient’s broken or fractured bones and then outline a course of treatment. If you can’t follow instructions and pay attention to these details, you may take the wrong images or miss capturing crucial information. If so, the patient may be misdiagnosed. Imagine having a broken bone but being told that there was nothing on an x-ray! That person would suffer unnecessary pain because of an unfortunate mistake. The other consequence is that images would have to be retaken, costing everyone time and both the hospital and patient money. However, if you are detail-oriented (or can learn to be) you will likely be an asset to a team focused on catching sometimes minor abnormalities on a radiological image.
You must have interpersonal skills.
Although a portion of your time will be spent behind a closed door taking x-ray images, you will also have to spend time communicating one-on-one with patients. Because most patients who are getting x-ray images have injured themselves and done damage to a bone, they will often be in pain. They may also be in distress about getting an x-ray, and you may distress them further by asking them to put the injured body part in an uncomfortable or painful position. This is necessary in order for you to get the right images, but they will only turn out well if the patient can lay still and be calm. Part of your job will be to comfort the patient and earn their cooperation so you only have to take images one time.
You must have science and mathematical skills.
As a technologist you must have intimate knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and other sciences. You need to know the names of all the bones and understand how they work so you can take proper images and help diagnose problems. Sometimes you will be asked to mix chemicals for use in imaging procedures, such as when you have a patient drink a certain mixture so specific tissues show up on the exam.