X Ray Technician Courses and Classes Overview

X-ray technicians, also known as radiologic technologists, are trained in the use of radiography equipment to create images of a patient's internal anatomy to aid doctors in diagnosis. X-ray technician courses are taken as part of a full degree program.

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Essential Information

The most common type of program for aspiring x-ray technicians is an associate's degree program in radiologic technology, which is usually available at a technical school or community college. This program normally takes two years and can prepare students for certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), which may be required to work in certain states. Licensure is another requirement in some locations and may require that the student has completed a program with accreditation from the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

Radiologic technology associate's degree programs usually have some prerequisite courses that must be completed, such as those in anatomy, physiology and English composition. Students then usually begin their major coursework with an introductory radiography course that provides an overview of medical terminology, radiation safety, patient care and imaging techniques. These subjects get covered more in depth in separate courses in radiation biology and protection, radiographic procedures, disease detection and radiographic imaging. Lab work and simulations are incorporated throughout these courses.

Students usually complete multiple supervised clinical practica throughout an associate's degree program. These generally take place at a hospital, clinic or other medical facility, and they gives students opportunities to work with patients and do practice examinations.

Common Courses

Several common x-ray technician program courses are described below.

Introduction to Radiography Course

New x-ray technician students get an introduction to the mechanics and uses of radiography in this course. They become familiar with basic imaging techniques, medical terminology and radiation safety. The class discusses the importance of patient care and the legal and ethical responsibilities that accompany work in the medical field.

Radiation Biology and Protection Course

Safety is a primary concern in radiography, and a radiation protection course centers on ways to protect the x-ray technician and patient from any more exposure than is necessary. Students learn how radiation is produced, how it is measured and how it affects human biology. They also study federal and state standards for exposure and dosing limits.

Radiographic Procedures Course

Most radiologic technology programs include several courses in radiographic procedures. These courses demonstrate how to position patients for radiographic images of various areas, such as the skull, chest, abdomen and spine. Students learn about anatomy to understand how to position the patient for the best image of a particular area. They then practice positioning in lab simulations.

Radiographic Imaging Course

Continuing from the overview in the introductory course, a radiographic imaging course provides a more detailed explanation of how radiographic imaging equipment operates. Students learn about the factors that influence image quality in x-rays and other radiographs, such as density, contrast and motion blur. The student should be able to recognize image quality and make adjustments if the quality is not acceptable. Course and lab work covers the use of traditional film media and modern digital imaging.

Pathology for Radiographers Course

This course discusses the properties and process of disease as it relates to radiology. Students learn about the diseases most commonly seen in radiology and how to identify signs of these diseases on radiographic images. The class also covers how diseases can require the x-ray technician to apply alternate imaging techniques.

Clinical Experience in Radiography Course

Radiologic technology programs feature multiple clinic courses spaced out over the length of the program. Students get the opportunity to observe professional x-ray technicians at work and practice what they have learned under supervision in a real clinic or hospital. Beyond the opportunity to practice examinations, this class also gives students the chance to interact with real patients and demonstrate proper patient care.

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