The position of radiologist assistant is a fairly new occupation that has its own specific certification and educational standards by the AART. Although radiologist assistants are not physicians, they are considered to hold the most advanced position in radiology without being a radiologist. Radiologist assistants work side by side as a vital member of the radiology team to perform complex imaging and therapeutic procedures to diagnose medical conditions. Read on to find out more about this new and thriving occupation that is gaining eminence in the rapidly growing healthcare industry.
How to Become a Radiologist Assistant
Since radiologist assistants work closely with the radiologist, they need to possess advanced levels of knowledge to correlate all image findings and determine the best course of treatment. In order to become a radiologist assistant, individuals need to first achieve a bachelor’s degree in radiology. Then, they must complete a master’s degree in an accredited graduate radiologic sciences program. Within the program, students get a hands-on learning experience and essential clinical training in a hospital or outpatient care setting.
After graduation, it is required for radiologist assistants to become certified and registered in radiography. According to ARRT standards, all applicants for certification must be of good moral character. Individuals with past convictions, criminal procedures, or military court martials for felonies and misdemeanors will violate the requirements. Once education and ethic standards have been exceeded, the candidate must pass the RRA examination. The certification of registered radiologist assistant must be maintained through ongoing registration and continuing education.
Radiologist assistants earn the highest salaries of all positions in radiology, with the exception of the radiologist him or herself. According to data provided by the American Medical Association, radiologist assistants earn an average annual salary of $102,972. The lowest ten percent in the field earn $90,076, while the top ten percent earn $112,615 each year. Expected earnings for radiologist assistants vary depending on the individual’s experience and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiologist assistants in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Oregon earn the highest salaries.
The United States is currently experiencing a shortage of radiologists and radiologist assistants in the field. Therefore, the demand for skilled and trained radiologist assistants will be very high until the shortage abates. While hospitals are the largest employers for the position, radiologist assistants are also in high demand in outpatient clinics and diagnostic imaging centers nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the radiology field is expected to grow by 28 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the average of all careers. Right now is a great time to get started in this booming industry and be rewarded by six-figure salary.
Radiologist assistants are expected to play a prominent role in performing advanced imaging procedures and techniques to assist with the diagnosis of illnesses or medical conditions. Radiologist assistants perform both pre and post-procedure evaluations with the patient in order to alleviate the workload of the radiologist physician. Assistants execute fluoroscopy, feeding tube placements, venous diagnostic exams, and most non-invasive procedures under the close supervision of the physician as well.
In addition, radiologist assistants are a much-needed bridge of communication between the radiologist, the radiology department, and the patients. Although the formal diagnosis needs to be signed and authorized by the radiologist, the assistant plays a crucial role in assisting with the diagnosis and communicating it to all involved parties.