What to Expect
Radiologic technology students study to become X-ray experts. They use
advanced computerized equipment and learn a variety of techniques to get the
Using sophisticated instruments requires technical expertise. Students
must also learn social skills to work with patients and co-workers. Programs
offer a mix of lectures, seminars, clinical laboratory sessions and activities.
"What I like best about the program is the ability to have hands-on training
in the lab," says Jodi C. Rolland. She is a medical radiation technology student.
Ashley Hodge is taking a bachelor of science in radiation therapy at the
University of Michigan. She wants to work in a radiation oncology department
at a hospital after she graduates.
"We get to train in multiple sites that allows for us to see and practice
in larger clinics and small clinics throughout mid-Michigan," says Hodge.
For Spencer Arnould, working with patients is the best part of the program.
He's pursuing a bachelor of science in radiation therapy at the University
"The program allows you to get a real understanding of direct patient care
hours before you graduate," says Arnould. "I also like the program because
of the fact that it opens many other career doors after you graduate."
Although hands-on training is great experience, the work can be physically
and emotionally demanding. And this can take a toll on students.
"Dealing with seeing dying patients or patients in pain is emotionally
taxing," says Hodge. "But as a student and a therapist, you will see it. When
dealing with the sicker patients, I just really tried to detach myself and
tried to stay strong."
The program's busy schedule makes it hard for students to take on part-time
jobs, so finances can be tight.
"The workload is tremendous!" says Rolland. "A student should have a really
good work ethic because you can't afford to fall behind in this program."
Rolland spends at least two hours per day studying. Hodge spends two to
four hours per day with her nose in her books. And students can expect to
spend even more time when preparing research papers and cramming for exams.
Students spent between $500 and $2,000 on textbooks per year. Other expenses
include a set of scrubs (clothing worn by medical staff), a name tag, and
a CPR and first aid course.
To save money, try finding used books, or buy books online. Hodge recommends
buying all the books for class. She sees her books as investments that she'll
continue to use throughout her career.
How to Prepare
Take courses in math, biology, chemistry and physics. English courses are
also important, as students of radiologic technology will have to write research
Hodge also recommends psychology or sociology. "These will help you understand
some of the emotional stress your patients may be going through," she says.
"Lastly I would suggest taking public speaking classes, because you have to
talk a lot to your patients, peers, doctors and do presentations to the class."
Other suggestions include joining a sports team or student council, or
getting involved in fundraisers and volunteer work. "Students who are able
to work well with others are what are needed because this whole field circulates
around teamwork," says Rolland.