Jobs in Radiology
By Joe Stein
U.S. News and World Report, late last year, released their annual list of the “Best Careers” for 2011. On this list (as it is almost every year) is Healthcare and specifically noted (amongst several others) is the role of Radiologic Technologist. This, coupled with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimation that the radiology field will grow at an above average pace of 17% over the next 10 years, and you have a “Hot Job”.
Like most Healthcare roles, the growth of Radiology is generally tied to our aging population and the need for additional testing which requires imaging. Radiology, simply defined, is the capturing of images of what is underneath the skin of a person in order to assist a physician in his or her diagnosis of the patient. What is especially appealing about Radiology is that many positions do not require an advanced degree (Master’s level), but offers a better than average level of compensation.
Every job has some core essential skills that a person must possess:
· An interest and aptitude towards technology and machinery is very important. There are very few radiology positions that do not require the extensive use of fairly high-tech machinery. Those who are afraid of this concept or lack the aptitude, should seek another area.
· Although you will be working with machinery, you can’t forget that there is a patient involved in the process. Like any position in healthcare, the core skills of patience and compassion are necessary. This is especially true since the very technology that you use (and perhaps take for granted) can be quite scary to the patient who will be using it to help determine what is wrong with them. During the interview process, communicate to the Hiring Manager your customer focus by communicating how you provided superior service, even perhaps when someone was being difficult.
· The desire for continual learning is a must. This is not a position where you can go to school and perhaps take some occasional seminars and you are done forever. Technology and methods are constantly evolving and changing in radiology. You need to have a desire to learn from both an interest level and to maintain your relevant skills in the field.
Landing a job in Radiology:
· Of course, you have to be trained to perform the role you choose. This involves different schooling (Associate’s and/or Bachelor’s Degree programs) and certification, depending on the position you are seeking. Most recommend gaining valuable work experience during school by working in an Internship.
· Although being an expert in one modality may be beneficial, knowing how to perform a variety (such as CT, mammography, and MRIs) can prove very valuable when searching a position. This will make you more valuable for those employers who have a variety of needs, as you will have the ability to fill-in as necessary.
· Determine what environment you wish to work in, as the majority of radiology positions are housed in hospitals. If you would prefer to not work in a hospital, you will significantly limit your search by focusing primarily on clinics and diagnostic imaging centers.
· Determine, during the process, what technology is being used by the company and what is their overall philosophy on this type of investment. You will want to give strong consideration to a company that really focuses on continual learning and technology investment, as this will allow you to maintain your relevant skill level over the years.
Finding a position in Radiology is like most positions in that a varied approach to the methods used is generally the best principle.
· Networking, like in most job searches, is a real key to finding a Radiology position. If you are already experienced in the field, leverage former co-workers and others in the field for the “word-of-mouth” positions that perhaps have not formally hit the market yet. If you are new to the field, contact former Professors and any others who you know in Radiology for any leads on jobs.
· WNYJOBS.com is a terrific local source for positions in the field. WNYJOBS.com covers the entire area of Western New York as a very economical resource for employers on a tight budget.
· Niche sites exist that specialize in Radiology positions. These sites can be particularly useful if you are doing a more regional or national search, or if you have a specific skill in the field. A quick “Google” search will easily provide you with 4-5 sites that cater specifically to Radiology.
All is not completely “rosy” in the Radiology world, however, all of these items should be short-term in duration:
· The struggling economy has caused some individuals in the field to delay retirement therefore slightly dampening the overall positive outlook.
· Similarly, the down economy has caused some patients to pass on non-essential testing in an effort to save medical costs on their tight budget.
· Government cost cutting has negatively impacted the reimbursement model for imaging. This has caused some belt tightening, especially for companies that rely heavily on this piece of business.
· Since you are operating equipment using radiation, there is some issue regarding exposure if not handled properly. Good safety procedures will help alleviate these concerns.
Radiology is a continually expanding field for those interested in Healthcare. If you have a desire to work with and help patients, and an aptitude for machinery and technology, this may just be the field of work for you.
As always, best of luck in your job search!