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Certification or registration: A question for x-ray technicians

By Lisa Tortorello, Jul 29 '11

The New York Times has been running a series of articles on radiation overdose errors, shedding continued light on a nationwide trend of states not regulating, or only slightly regulating, the credentials of x-ray technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal legislation ensures that radiologic equipment operators are properly trained, but it is up to each state to require licensure of x-ray techs.

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) has been lobbying Congress for 12 years, encouraging them to pass the CARE (Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy) Bill.

According to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the CARE Bill would establish education and certification standards for personnel who perform exams and procedures that use medical radiation, including x-ray technicians The bill currently has the support of 26 organizations, representing more than 500,000 health professionals.

"In the bigger picture, healthcare requires a continuous quality improvement process," said Jerry B. Reid, Ph.D., executive director of the ARRT. "We believe that passing the CARE Bill would be a large step forward toward achieving the best possible safety and quality."

In order to further promote a culture of safety, ARRT currently offers registration and certification for x-ray technicians. But what does this actually mean?

X-ray tech certification

Because an x-ray tech is certified does not mean he or she is also registered, according to ARRT. The organization describes certification as a "one-time process of initially recognizing individuals who have satisfied certain standards within a profession." Pursuing certification from ARRT may only be achieved after completing "educational preparation standards, complying with ethics standards and passing a certification exam." The certification process may includes:

  • Graduating from an approved educational program
  • Meeting the ARRT Standards of Ethics
  • Passing the certification exam
  • Making a one-time payment fee

X-ray tech registration

ARRT describes x-ray tech registration as "the annual procedure required to maintain registration of the certification." Therefore, in order to become a Registered Technologist, and use the initials R.T. after their names, x-ray techs may require to first satisfactorily complete the certification process described above. While some potential employers may require AART certification, they may not necessarily demand registration.

Registration is done annually and is renewable each year through the AART for an annual fee. Certificates of x-ray technicians may be registered only if they meet the following criteria:

  • Agreement to comply with ARRT Rules and Regulations
  • Continuing to comply with the ARRT Standards of Ethics
  • Meeting the Continuing Education Requirements for Renewal of Registration

Is registration really necessary after certification?

As we said, many employers may not, and are not required to, demand that an x-ray tech be registered. However, many organizations are beginning to recognize registration as a way to promote high standards of patient care and ensure an individual is qualified. The continuing education component of ARRT registration enhances an employer's confidence in the technologist's competence by confirming the person is educated regarding the most recent advances in the field.

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