What Is Radiologic Science?

Radiologists and radiologic technicians use radiologic equipment to diagnose and treat medical conditions in the body. Radiation therapy, which is used to treat cancer and other diseases, is another branch of radiologic science. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Radiologic science involves the use and maintenance of radiologic equipment. As a radiologic science professional, you may be called an X-ray technician (X-ray tech) or radiologic technician (RT). Radiological science involves using advanced, state of the art X-ray technologies in medical examination, diagnosis, and treatment. As a radiologic technician or radiologist, you can specialize in a number of areas, such as:

  • Sonography
  • Radiation therapy
  • Bone densitometry
  • Mammography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Nuclear medicine

Important Facts About Radiologic Technologists

Median Salary $59,520 per year
Job Outlook 12% growth (faster than average)
Similar Occupation MRI Technologist
Work Environment Hospital/doctor's office setting

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Radiation Therapy

Although radiologic science is often used to diagnose medical problems, it can also be used in treatment. Once an anomaly is diagnosed in the body, doctors confer with patients to decide the best source of treatment. Radiation may be used in preventative methods of treatment, such as for varicose veins, nerve blockages, and biopsies. Radiation can also be used to aggressively treat tumors and other malignancies.

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA, www.rsna.org) says that treatment of over half of all cancers involves a type of radiation therapy. Some types of cancer, such as prostate, neck, and head are treated primarily with radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may be used internally, called brachytherapy, or via a machine that beams the treatment to the affected part of the body. Radiation therapists or oncologists may administer radiation treatment to the patient.

Treatments

Doctors use various types of radiation therapy treatments, because diseases respond differently to various types of therapies. The RSNA outlines the five different types of radiation therapies that are used primarily on patients with cancer or a tumor:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • External beam therapy
  • Brachytherapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Proton therapy

Education

Radiologic technicians must obtain an associate's or bachelor's degree in radiological sciences. Essential topics covered in programs include:

  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Radiation protection
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical ethics
  • Radiobiology
  • Radiation physics

Licensure and Certification

Many states require radiologic technicians to be licensed, which can be achieved by passing a standardized examination upon completion of educational requirements. Specific licensing requirements may vary state to state; you should contact your state's board of health directly. Although certification by a professional organization is not mandatory, it ensures that technicians have achieved a minimum level of competency.

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