The profession of Radiological Technologist involves a broad variety of procedures and covers a number of specialties, including:
- Plain film radiological technology, i.e., x-rays of the chest, bones, joints, gastrointestinal studies, spine
- Mammography to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages
- Angiography to examine the heart, blood vessels and blood flow
- Fluoroscopy, i.e., real-time images that show movement
- Computerized tomography (CT scans), i.e., detailed cross-sectional images of the body
At a physician's request, the technologist produces images of a body part or system using equipment that emits x-rays. The radiologist - a doctor who specializes in interpreting x-rays - studies the images and dispenses advice that helps the treating physician make a diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate course of treatment to the patient.
As part of their professional duty, technologists:
- Explain the procedure to patients.
- Answer questions as fully as possible.
- Contribute to patient education.
- Comfort patients and provide emotional support.
- Position patients and equipment correctly.
- Ensure that patient, all staff and visitors are protected from radiation.
- Monitor patients during the procedure.
- Assist the radiologist for angiographs and interventional procedures.
- Operate the equipment.
Most radiological procedures involve only a short exposure to low-level radiation. Protective coverings can be placed on patients to help minimize their exposure. Technologists wear protective clothing, or stand behind protective barriers, to avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
Technologists are responsible for the quality of the x-ray images and for providing the correct view of specific body structures or systems, whether on film, a computer monitor, or a television.
Some procedures require that barium and/or a dye called contrast medium be given to patients to highlight organs and structures that would not otherwise be seen.
In Nova Scotia you must receive a 4 year degree in Health Sciences to become a Radiological Technologist. In Nova Scotia this program is offered at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Upon completion of this degree, you must then write a national certification exam developed by our national Association (Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists). You also have to be a member of this association to work in Canada.