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What Are the Requirements of a Radiologist Assistant Degree Program?

The radiologist assistant (RA) position was developed in 1995 to meet the needs of a growing patient base in radiological procedures. Radiologist assistants must adhere to very specific educational requirements involving the degree level obtained, the RA exam and a clinical portfolio in order to practice as RAs.

What Radiologist Assistants Do

A radiologist assistant bridges the gap between radiology technologists and radiologist physicians. It is a mid-level position that works under the supervision of a radiologist, performing patient assessment, patient management, and selected clinical imaging procedures. The position was created to enhance the quality of patient care in radiology.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Degrees Bachelor of Science in Radiation Sciences or Clinical Radiation Sciences, Master of Health Science in Radiologist Assistant Education
Continuing Education 24 credits of continuing education every two years
Online Availability Fully online and hybrid programs available
Median Salary (2019) $85,474 (radiologist assistants)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 37% (all physician assistants)

Sources: PayScale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Radiologist assistant degree programs include course study in subjects such as imaging fundamentals, cross-sectional anatomy, pathophysiology and radiological pharmacology, in addition to radiation safety, interventional procedures and patient care. Candidates in a radiologist assistant program must complete a preceptorship, which is a period of training during which an experienced radiologist trains and observes students. Students must complete mandatory and elective procedures to prove their capabilities. In addition, clinical procedures, professional activities, accomplishments, case studies, and evaluations will be documented in a clinical portfolio.

Course topics in such a program might include:

  • Patient communication, assessment, and management
  • Drugs and contrast materials
  • Anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology
  • Radiologic procedures
  • Radiation biology, radiation safety, and fluoroscopic operation
  • Medical, legal, governmental and professional standards

Qualifications of a Registered Radiologist Assistant

Once a bachelor's or master's degree in radiologist assisting is acquired, graduates are eligible to be certified as a Registered Radiologist Assistant (RRA), which is a professional credential from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART). This certification does not empower the RRA to diagnose or prescribe to radiological patients. In addition to a degree and certification, students must present a record of one year of clinical experience and evaluations to obtain employment as an RRA.