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Medical Imaging Technology - Overview


Medical imaging technology programs prepare people to take X-ray and other kinds of images of patients. Students learn anatomy, medical terms, and patient care. They also learn to operate equipment and keep records.

Not many years ago, medical imaging technology mainly referred to X-rays processed on film. In the last three decades, however, this technology has grown rapidly. Now, you can take medical images of the human body in many different, more sophisticated ways.

These methods are now almost always computerized and include, among others, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT scans). Physicians use the images obtained by these technologies to both diagnose and track the progress of illnesses and injuries.

Depending on the condition of the patient, one of these ways may be more appropriate than the other to use. Medical imaging technologists develop their skills at administering these methods in order to first choose, then use, the more suitable one. This is often called being "multicredentialed," and multicredentialed medical imaging technologists are in demand in the healthcare field.

As a student in this program, you usually first learn how to take X-rays of patients. This is called radiography. After that first step, you can often choose to learn another medical imaging technology such as MRI. To do this, you study the basic science behind the technology. You learn to use different kinds of equipment and to interact with patients who may be very ill or nervous about the big machines. You also study anatomy to become familiar with the "subject" of your "medical photography."

About 40 schools offer bachelor's degree programs in medical imaging technology. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years of full-time study after high school. These programs may first contain an overview of different medical imaging technologies, and then you usually have a chance to choose the technologies that most interest you.

Alternatively, if you are already a certified radiographer (X-ray technician), you can get a certificate in another medical imaging technology method such as CT scanning. These certificate programs take anywhere from six months to two years of full-time study in addition to the time spent getting certified in radiography.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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