A radiology assistant performs many of the duties performed by radiologists. They also assist the radiologist physicians in performing invasive and non-invasive diagnostic tests. The job position is a fairly new phenomenon and is still evolving. It is considered a very high level position in the field of radiology with the next highest position being that of a radiologist physician.
Radiology assistants work very closely with physicians as well as independently of them. Their deep knowledge of imaging and therapeutic techniques allows them to analyze test results to determine the best course of action for the patient by creating a patient care plan.
Some of their common duties include performing pre and post evaluations, assisting radiologist physicians with invasive and complex procedures, and assisting with patient diagnosis.
The radiology assistant career field is fairly new. The career spawned from a need for specialized training in the field of radiology and the increased need to take the burden off of radiology physicians.
Education and Training
The path to a career as a radiologist assistant includes very specific academic and on the job training. To become a radiologist assistant one must complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree specific to the career. It is helpful if students have a background in biological sciences and/or healthcare. Programs have limited space and can only accept a pre-determined amount of students who apply. Programs have specific prerequisites such as classes in biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry.
Programs are designed to be academically rigorous and include a component requiring students to spend nearly 2,000 hours working in a clinical environment under the auspices of a radiologist and/or radiologist assistant.
How to Get the Job
Since the career field of radiologist assistant is fairly new, many current RA’s have prior experience working as nurses, radiology technicians, physician assistants and radiographers. Graduates of radiologist assistant programs gain valuable experience and personal contacts through internships. Jobs are posted on career websites, college career fairs, healthcare publication, healthcare organization websites, and classified ads.
Job prospects are expected to be very good in this burgeoning field as radiologists are overworked and need assistance in providing care. Demand for diagnostic care by baby boomers as well as the general population is fueling the rapid growth. Growth is also fueled by new radiologist positions being created as healthcare organizations make it a new job classification.
Radiologist assistants work in various healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, walk-ins, and outpatient facilities. They spend their time performing tests as well as in an office writing up care plans and analyzing test results. Job hours vary as some radiologist assistants work non-traditional shifts including nights, weekends, and holidays which is common in the healthcare industry.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a radiologist assistant in the United States is nearly $103,000 per year. Average salary varies depending on location, organization, and experience. Full benefits such as medical, dental, vision, and retirement are typically included. They also receive vacation and sick days.