Five pathways exist for becoming an ARRT certified entry level radiographer. Three pathways include hospital based programs that award certificates of completion, community colleges (like CSI) that award associate of applied science degrees and universities (like ISU and BSU) that award associate of science and baccalaureate degrees. A fourth way to enter the profession is through one of the superb military radiography programs that are available in the United States Army, Air Force and Navy. In the Army you can qualify in less that one year to take the ARRT exam in radiography. In exchange for this excellent training, the Army will employ you for six years and provide you with excellent benefits. A fifth option would be to receive your radiography education in a foreign country like Canada, England or Australia and then seek recognition via the ARRT reciprocity mechanism.
There are a multitude of radiography programs throughout the United States (including several in Idaho). The vast majority are associate degree programs mainly offered by community colleges. Many similarities exist between these programs. For example, they all offer classroom, lab and clinical education based on accepted industry standards in diagnostic radiography. However, few are identical in terms of their program design and implementation. Some use the course titles and descriptions recommended by the ASRT radiography curriculum guide. Other programs generate their own titles and descriptions to reflect a particular specialized emphasis, registry examination content, or the embedding of content from two or more courses. Some provide more clinical education hours than others for the achievement of the same radiographic competencies. Often these differences will result in considerable differences in credit values between the same course that is offered at two or more radiography programs.
Why doesn't the radiologic technology profession standardize everything so that there are not differences between programs?
That would take local control away from educational institutions for determining the best way to provide qualified radiographers for their area radiology departments. Because of local control, much of the differences between programs can be attributed to the logic of the curriculum builders (the program manager, clinical coordinators / educators, state education officials, institutional curriculum committee members, etc.) who do their best to assemble a relevant and cost effective competency-based subject matter radiography curriculum. And, since not all local control manpower and training circumstances are the same, including the curriculum developers, most radiography programs tend to be different.
For a serious discussion on several important ways that an associate degree curriculum in radiography may be organized and implemented, please refer to "Chapter 5: Developing the Associate Degree Curriculum in Radiography," by O. Gary Lauer that was published in the multi-authored textbook titled: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF THE COLLEGE-BASED RADIOGRAPHY PROGRAM (Warren H. Green, Inc., St. Louis, MO, 1984) pp. 51-82.
Please refer to the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology for information about educational standards and the number and variety of radiologic technology programs in the United States.
The two long standing university-based radiography programs at BSU and ISU as well as the recent program at Lewis and Clark State College are considered "academic" programs. Graduates from these radiography programs earn an Associate of Science degree. Approximately half of all credits for the AS degree include "academic" subjects like chemistry, biochemistry, physics, math, biology, etc., in addition to the technical coursework in radiography. Academic programs fall under the responsibility of Idaho's "higher education" system that is governed by the Idaho State Board of Education.
The CSI RT program is considered to be a "postsecondary professional-technical" program. Graduates from it earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. A minimum of sixteen (16) credits for the AAS degree must be in general education or academic subjects like math, science, communication, etc., in addition to the remaining technical radiography coursework. Postsecondary programs offered at CSI and five other Idaho colleges make up Idaho's technical college system which is governed by the Idaho State Board of Professional-Technical Education.
The Idaho State Board of Professional-Technical Education requires that all postsecondary faculty, (including CSI RT faculty) to be state certified to teach in their respective fields. Earning this teacher certification requires being industry certified as well as completing approximately 18 semester credits in specific courses related to professional-technical education. Faculty from ISU, BSU and LCSC RT programs are not required to achieve professional-technical teacher certification. For a detailed description of the certification process for postsecondary professional-technical educators, please consult the Idaho Department of Education Professional School Personnel Certification manual.
The Idaho State Board for Professional-Technical Education established the minimum requirements for awarding an Associate of Applied Science degree in Idaho at 60 semester credits of which 16 credits must be in general education (emphasis on math, communication and science) and the remaining 44 credits pertaining to industry specific (radiography) education. After integrating these degree requirements with radiography industry standards as identified by the ASRT Radiography Curriculum Guide and the ARRT radiography examination content specifications, the CSI RT program was assembled and valued at 72 credits. This resulted in 12 semester credits beyond the minimum requirement of 60 credits. This is equivalent to one additional semester. Although some may feel that these additional 12 credits are excessive, this represents the best fit for being able to cover all the essential content required by several groups (ASRT, JRCERT, ARRT, and the Idaho State Board of Professional-Technical Education) within a 24 month period. Please note that the new CSI RT curriculum is a work in progress and is expected to undergo the necessary changes that are essential for establishing a track record of success.
The AAS degree model provides greater emphasis on professional technical subjects by not requiring students to complete another semester (approximately 15 additional academic credits). These credits, although "nice to know" are not essential to becoming an entry level radiographer. The duration of education and training adheres to a minimum of 24 months, which is the standard duration for earning an associate degree. This approach provides a distinct advantage to the radiology departments in the CSI education service area by supplying them with qualified entry level radiographers in the shortest period. Similarly, CSI radiography students are not held in school any longer than is necessary to enter the radiography profession. Both advantages provide for significant savings in time, energy and money compared to longer, more academic approaches for educating and training radiographers.
They are longer in duration because of the additional academic emphasis along with the need to cover the content contained in the seventeen professional radiography subjects identified in the radiography curriculum guide of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. When additional subjects beyond the scope of the basic entry level curriculum are taught in these programs, the curriculums are lengthened even further. That is why the BSU, ISU and LCSC programs tend to be about a year longer than the CSI RT program, which is slightly less than 24 months.
The CSI RT program concentrates on teaching the "essential" content contained in the ASRT radiography curriculum guide that is designed to prepare students to pass their ARRT radiography certification examination. Nice to know, content related to academic subjects, other imaging modalities (CT, MRI, etc.) and other interesting aspects of the profession are not emphasized to a great extent so as to maintain the shortest possible education and training duration. An assumption is held by CSI program officials that many of the nice to know aspects of the profession are revealed informally during the 24 month training period or they will become an integral part of the students repertoire after employment is secured as an ARRT Registered Technologist in Radiography. Concentrating on needed radiography related content and skills allows students to complete their education and training more efficiently and enter the workforce in the shortest time.
The precedent was set many years ago at ISU and BSU by officials at that time to offer radiography programs on the academic side of their respective campuses. Since their Associate of Science degree radiography programs are designed to articulate with their baccalaureate degree programs, changing to an AAS degree model may be extremely difficult. That's why the ISU program is housed in the College of Health Professions instead of at the College of Technology and the BSU program is housed in the College of Health Sciences instead of the Larry G. Selland College of Applied Technology. LCSC made the decision to follow this precedent and patterned their AS degree program similarly.
No. There is no minimum baccalaureate degree standard in the profession for radiologic technologists. Entry level radiography graduates from approved hospital-based, associate degree, and bachelor of science degree programs are equally eligible to take the ARRT exam in radiography. Thus, upon passing the ARRT exam, they are considered equally qualified as entry-level radiographers.
Not necessarily. In an article in the March / April 2002 issue of the Journal of Radiologic Technology titled Radiology Administrator's Opinions of Education, authors Kristi Cruise, RT, and James Robert Curise II, RT, reported the results of a recent survey of California radiology managers. In the same issue of Radiologic Technology, Sal Martino, Ed.D., Vice President of Education and Research for ASRT summarized the findings of this report by saying RTs with baccalaureate degrees did not have an edge when it comes to hiring decisions, salary negotiations or advancement opportunities. Nearly 90 % of administrators responding said they would hire an experienced RT with a certificate or an associate degree over an experienced RT with a bachelor's degree, 84 % said they would offer an RT with a bachelor's degree the same wages as an RT without one and 59 % said they do not consider the baccalaureate a prerequisite for promotion to a supervisory position. Furthermore, he expressed that this data does not suggest that it's a waste of time obtaining a baccalaureate degree but that the radiologic technology profession hasn't demonstrated the value of a baccalaureate, particularly to clinical practice.
Aside for the intrinsic value that any baccalaureate level education provides, you may want to earn a B.S. degree if you plan on teaching or directing a radiologic technology educational program or if you want to become a radiology manager. In both instances a baccalaureate degree makes good sense. Often, the B.S.is a minimum requirement for these positions. For example, Standard Six of the Standards for an Accredited Educational Program in Radiologic Sciences of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology recommends that educational program directors possess a minimum of a master's degree with emphasis in teaching and educational administration and that clinical education coordinators possess a minimum of a baccalaureate degree.
No. For additional information concerning entry level or advance practice certification requirements, please refer to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists web site. Much of this additional imaging modality education and training may be done on-the-job according to ARRT guidelines.
Granting transferability of credit is the prerogative of the institution that you apply to. However, most baccalaureate degree radiologic technology programs operate "post certification degree programs." Here's how they work. Graduates of ARRT registry eligible programs or ARRT registered technologists are granted the equivalent didactic and clinical education credit that is awarded existing entry level graduates of the sponsoring institution. The only thing left for the transfer student to do then is complete the required academic and upper division radiologic technology courses. Since some CSI graduates may have a few less academic credits to transfer, they may need to attend college for an additional semester to satisfy certain baccalaureate degree requirements. However, it should be noted that many CSI radiography program graduates already have obtained an associate degree or possess many academic courses that are transferable. This helps to reduce the amount of time that is necessary to earn a baccalaureate degree. Also, several CSI graduates already had earned baccalaureate degrees prior to being accepted into the CSI radiologic technology program.
Mechanisms are in place at Idaho State University for a Bachelor of Health Science degree and at Boise State University for a Bachelor of Applied Technology. These programs are designed for graduates of professional-technical education programs at Idaho's six technical colleges (including CSI) to complete within two years. For specific information contact the respective deans of the ISU College of Technology and the BSU Larry G. Selland College of Applied Technology.
CSI has a first-rate radiography teaching and learning laboratory. (For a virtual tour of CSI Rad Lab I, please go to the "Overview" page.) Room 154 in the Aspen building provides over 750 square feet of space where didactic instruction is presented along with laboratory exercises in radiologic science, patient care, positioning and imaging and processing, etc..This "state inspected and approved" energized lab contains four radiographic machines (one energized and three simulated), a portable x-ray machine, a darkroom for automatic x-ray film processing, a new Kodak Computed Radiography 800 System linked via the Internet to an imaging workstation which in turn is linked to three imaging work stations in Rad Lab II in Aspen Room 153 next door. Also installed is an overhead computer projector linked to a Smart Board. Rad Lab II in Aspen 153 next door provides an additional 400 square feet for film and digital image analysis.
Self Motivation is the key! Those students who desperately "want" and "expect" to become ARRT Registered Technologists in Radiography will develop a strategy for achieving this goal at the expected time -- regardless of the type of radiography program they attend. All ARRT registry eligible radiography programs, including the wonderful RT programs that are available throughout the United States, provide the mechanism by which that strategy may be fulfilled the student.