What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist?


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist is a health care professional who utilizes a strong magnetic field to perform imaging examinations of the human body. The unique nature of this technology presents special imaging, patient care, and safety requirements. Introduced as a diagnostic medical imaging tool in the 1980s, magnetic resonance uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to examine organs and structures inside the body. Since magnetic resonance does not involve the use of ionizing radiation, radiation protection is unnecessary. However, patients must remove any metal objects that could be drawn to the magnet. Patients with metallic implants, cannot undergo magnetic resonance scans because of the potential for damage to such devices and potential harm to the patient.  During an MRI scan, atoms in the patient's body are exposed to a strong magnetic field. The technologist applies a radiofrequency pulse to the field, which knocks the atoms out of alignment. When the technologist turns the pulse off, the atoms return to their original position. In the process, they give off signals that are measured by a computer and processed to create detailed images of the patient's anatomy. 

Although still a young technology, it has become firmly rooted in medical practice, particularly for:

  • the cardiovascular system
  • brain and spinal cord
  • bones, joints, soft tissues, such as muscles and tendons
  • blood vessels and organs in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis
  • It can also be used to study body chemistry (spectroscopy), and brain and body functions. 

Information about  MRI scan wait times in Nova Scotia can be found at the Nova Scotia Department of Health website

As part of their professional duties, magnetic resonance technologists:

  • Explain the procedures to patients.
  • Answer questions as fully as possible.
  • Operate the scanner.
  • Monitor patients during the scan.
  • Comfort patients and provide emotional support.
  • Ensure the safety of patients and staff around the magnetic field.
  • Educate patients and staff.

Claustrophobia can be a problem for certain patients as MRI scans often require having the upper body in a body-length tunnel for 30-60 mins.

Required Education
To be eligible to become an MRI Technologist there are two paths;

  • Taking a MRI program as a first discipline program  from a recognized program in Canada and then pass the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) entry to practice exam
  • Taking MRI as a 2nd discipline program.You must first have passed the national certification exam in  Diagnostic Medical Sonogrpahy/ Nuclear Medicine / Radiation Therapy /or Radiological Technology and then study to gain requirements MRI. This takes an additional year  on average and includes seveal months of clinical training and successful completion of the CAMRT MRI exam. 

For more information on MRI, programs follow the link to approved Canadian programs. All MRI technologists must be registered with NSAMRT to work in the province of Nova Scotia.