Are you considering a job in the field of medical imaging? Medical imaging is an umbrella term for many similar yet different specialty healthcare careers. The path you choose largely depends on the type of patients you are interested in treating and the kind of machinery and materials you want to handle. It also has a lot to do with your personality and the specific learning objectives you have set for yourself.
The various career options typically require the same educational background, which consists of a bachelor’s degree, medical school degree and some amount of residency experience. However, some of the more specialized routes may call for additional certifications and education. In this field, the terms ‘technician’ and ‘technologist’ are often used, and it’s important to know the difference. In general, a technician is someone who has a general understanding of the technology at hand, while a technologist is an expert at it; a technician will work under a technologist and have fewer credentials.
We know that picking a career is a very important and often difficult decision. So, here is a quick rundown of some of the most popular medical imaging career paths that you can explore!
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Also referred to as ultrasound technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers are one of the most common types of medical imaging professionals. They often work with pregnant women to generate images of their babies, but they also produce images of internal organs, muscles and tissue using high frequency sound waves. The demand for sonographers is on the rise due to an increased use of the technology as an effective way to detect possibly serious underlying issues. The profession has even been ranked #1 out of the top 30 best healthcare support jobs because of the potentially life-saving work they do!
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians and radiologists work in very similar settings – they are healthcare professionals that perform diagnostic imaging scans. The main difference between the two is the kind of machinery they operate. MRI techs use large, tube-like machines to create high definition, 3D images of the patient’s entire body, while radiologists typically use X-Ray or computer tomography (CT) machines to create images of tissues and organs in more focused areas. This is another one of the most common medical imaging career path options, and is growing faster than the average profession. Developments in the field have also been on the rise in the past few years, in attempts to make the procedures more efficient and comfortable for the patient.
This specialty relates exclusively to treating the cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular (CV) techs can perform both invasive and non-invasive procedures to help monitor the system, such as inserting a catheter into a patient’s artery or performing echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart). Due to the complex nature of the system, the CV tech field can be further broken down into sub-specialties like cardiology technologists, vascular technologists and cardiac sonographers – all which perform different duties!
This specialty is obviously well-suited for someone interested in learning about monitoring and diagnosing cardiovascular health. Working as a CV technologist can give you great experience if you have any aspirations to work as a cardiologist, for example.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
This is one of the most highly specialized medical imaging careers, and is one that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. Nuclear medicine technologists are responsible for administering radiopharmaceuticals into the body in order to pinpoint hard-to-identify issues. Once injected, the material changes color when it finds the problem area – this proves to be an especially beneficial method in instances that could have a number of potential causes.
If you are interested in staying on top of the latest advancements in the field and want to move away from some of the more traditional imaging methods, this could be the career path for you.
Radiation therapists work very closely with radiologists, and administer radiation therapy, which is one of the most common treatments for many types of cancer. This is a great career path option for healthcare professionals who are more people-oriented and are natural caregivers. Interacting with people who are suffering from cancer requires the therapist to have a comforting and warm disposition in addition to being highly qualified.
This career path is a fulfilling one, as therapists are part of a larger healthcare team that works day in and day out towards treating and preventing this awful disease. To top it off, as of this year, radiation therapists held the title of the highest paid medical imaging career – so there definitely are a lot of reasons to consider this specialty.
Are you on the lookout for an exciting career in medical imaging? We have lots of great positions all across the country just waiting to be filled! Take a look at our open opportunities here or, if you’re looking for something different, send in an updated resume here.