MEDICAL RADIATION TECHNOLOGIST
Canada’s medical radiation technologists are caring professionals, high-tech specialists, and essential members of your healthcare team. In fact, they are the very image of care.
THE 5 MAJOR TYPES OF MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNOLOGIES ARE:
- Computed Tomography
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Nuclear Medicine.
WHAT MRTs DO
MRTs are the technologists who perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. So, if you have ever had an x-ray, scan, MRI, nuclear medicine procedure or radiation therapy, you have been in contact with an MRT.
Technologists also work in interventional radiology, assisting with procedures that use imaging to guide catheters, balloons, stents and other tools through the body to diagnose and treat disease without open surgery. They can be found in emergency departments, operating rooms, mobile breast screening vans as well as diagnostic imaging departments and clinics.
MRTs provide service to both the public and private sectors within the Canadian healthcare system. Their key role is in diagnosis and treatment, and serving as advisors to radiologists, radiation oncologists and other healthcare providers.
Because they deal with patients on the front lines, they also serve as patient advocates and educators. Some are also healthcare researchers, technical and therapy specialists, and interdisciplinary consultants.
THE MRT PROFESSION
The MRT profession has evolved as technologies have advanced, starting in the late 19th century when Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen first produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range (now known as x-rays).
Today, magnetic and nuclear medicine technologies, as well as powerful computer-based diagnostic tools, put MRTs on the leading edge of patient care.
MRTs play a critical role in Canada’s healthcare system, not only with high-tech diagnoses and treatments, but also by providing opportunities for medical research and innovations in caregiving that improve quality of life. You will find MRTs not only in hospitals and clinics from coast to coast; but wherever the Canadian Forces are deployed; in the dressing rooms of our professional sport teams; and in 2010, on the field of play at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The MRT profession today includes a diverse array of highly-trained professionals representing various technology-related disciplines in the healthcare field:
Magnetic resonance technologists produce diagnostic images using equipment that generates radio waves and a strong magnetic field. Extensive knowledge of physics, anatomy, pathology and physiology allows MRI technologists to obtain images, while monitoring and caring for patients during scans.
Nuclear medicine technologists have technical expertise in the use of radiopharmaceuticals and radiation physics, allowing them to perform diagnostic imaging procedures with sophisticated technology. Their use of exceptional quality assurance techniques provides for patient safety and comfort.
Radiation therapists are responsible for — and expert in — planning and administering radiation treatment using complex medical radiation equipment for cancer patients. They offer ongoing care and support to patients and their families during the course of treatment.
Radiological technologists produce images of body parts and systems by performing and assisting in exams in general x-ray, CT, breast imaging, operating room and other specialized procedures. They are expert in the operation of complex medical radiation equipment while providing comprehensive, compassionate care to each patient.
HOW TO BECOME AN MRT
To become a professional MRT, candidates study anatomy, physiology, patient positioning, examination techniques, equipment protocols, radiation safety, radiation protection, radiation biology and patient care in a Canadian Medical Association-accredited program at the post-secondary level. They are then eligible to write the national certification examination administered by CAMRT, and can choose to specialize in one or more of the four disciplines of medical imaging and radiation science:
- General radiography
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Nuclear medicine
- Radiation therapy
MRTs also abide by a professional code of ethics and follow best practice guidelines that advance the principles of patient respect and dignity, patient centered care and safety, fairness, and accountability and integrity.
There are three accredited programs in British Columbia
- BC Institute of Technology (two-year diploma program)
- Camosun College (two-year diploma program)
- College of New Caledonia (two-year diploma program)
Admission to these programs is highly competitive, and potential applicants should expect that the ‘minimum’ requirements stated will not be sufficient when there are more applicants than spaces available in a program.
More information is available from the Association for Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs) in British Columbia.