Many laypeople, perhaps most, have only a vague idea about what a medical radiographer—also called a radiologic technologist, or rad tech—really does. And they probably don’t know that it is a booming professional field that offers diverse job opportunities and a stable income. So how does a young person find out about this promising career path?
For Darah Lindley, it was a chance conversation with a family friend about sonography—a medical diagnostic procedure involving the use of sound waves—that sparked her interest in the health sciences. “I love helping people and learning new things,” recalls Lindley. “I knew I wanted a career that incorporated these qualities.” She began researching careers in healthcare, and soon realized that radiography would be a good match for her.
Learning about radiography
Medical radiography, also known as X-ray technology, involves using sophisticated imaging equipment to photograph parts of the human body. Lindley would be working closely with patients and physicians. Part of the work would be to explain the process to patients, position them correctly in the imaging machinery, and relieve any concerns they might have. She’d be playing an important role on medical teams, and helping people who were ill or injured.
Jobs and salary
The median pay for radiologic technologist jobs in 2012 was $54,620, and, after graduating, Lindley would be able to find positions in a number of different healthcare settings: hospitals, physicians' offices, clinics, diagnostic imaging centers, temporary staffing agencies and mobile units. Demand for radiologists is expected to increase by 21% between 2012-2022—that’s faster than for most other professions. “You're always going to be in a new situation and gain new experiences because every patient is different,” says Lindley. “There’s a lot of room for growth in the path I chose, so I think it will be rewarding.”
Choosing St. Vincent’s College
Soon, Lindley, now 23, enrolled in St. Vincent’s College radiography program, at the Stamford site. After graduating with an AS degree, she plans to continue her studies and get her BS.
Why did she choose St. Vincent’s? “I love the values this institution was built on—helping the community, putting those in need first—these are values that I respect and believe in.” Another reason: St. Vincent’s College radiography graduates have enjoyed a 100% job placement rate. St. Vincent’s doesn’t guarantee positions, but the teaching staff works closely with students to help them make the right connections. Typically, a rad tech has two-to-four years of schooling that lead to earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiologic science. Some rad techs earn advanced certifications to prepare for specialty positions.
High quality education
Part of St. Vincent’s Radiography program involves getting live, hands-on clinical experience. “I have been doing my clinical rotations at various Stamford Hospital locations,” says Lindley. “My lab instructor, who is a SVC radiography graduate, has been fantastic. I can’t say enough about my instructors. They want nothing but the best for their students. I have always been offered great help when needed. I am confident that the quality of education I am receiving will help me to be an excellent rad tech.
“Prior to my clinical rotations, I had no experience in a hospital or clinical setting,” she adds. “It was totally new to me, and, I admit, it was intimidating. While it is still sometimes foreign to me, I am learning new things about myself and about others. I am around patients and people from a wide range of backgrounds. It’s exciting and yes, scary at times, but it has really broadened my horizons.”
To learn more about a radiography career, check out these blogs:
You can find out more about St. Vincent’s associate's and bachelor's degrees in radiologic science by downloading this video:
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