Radiological Technologists

They See What's On The Inside

Bobbi Guzman, RT(R)(MR), the State Sresident for the Oregon Society of Radiologic Technologists (OSRT)

Under that layer of the epidermis lies a collection of bones and organs and seeing what’s inside- what makes the human body work -has been a challenge of healers throughout time. If you are unfortunate enough to have an “oops” while skiing or putting on your sock or are waiting to find out if “it’s a boy or a girl,” you are fortunate to live in a time where health care professionals, more specifically, radiological technologists, can see “what’s underneath.”

With the discovery of x-rays, by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physics professor in 1895, medicine changed. Along with this technology came the people who perform the diagnostic imaging exams and administer the radiation therapy and operated the machines- the radiological technologists (RT). Radiologic Technologists work with the Radiologists and are the medical personnel who perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments. In Salem, you can find RT’s at both hospitals and independent clinics.

Bobbi Guzman, RT(R)(MR), the state president for the Oregon Society of Radiologic Technologists (OSRT) works at Mission Medical Imaging in Salem. “We work with some of the most innovative equipment in the medical field to help identify and treat diseases,” she said. “We specialize in mammography, CAT scans (computed tomography), MRI’s (magnetic resonance imaging) and general diagnostic radiology (X-ray) and so much more.”

The challenge, she adds, is that “each piece of equipment acquires images of the body in a different manner -- some use radiation, some use sonar waves, others use magnetism and radio frequency pulses. The equipment used by technologists is phenomenal! I am in awe of the complexities of these machines, the science behind the technology and the professionals who dedicate their time and effort to providing for societal health.”

Guzman is clearly passionate about her work. “Fortune has smiled on me when it comes to my profession. Not only have I found an ideal career as a Radiologic Technologist, but I am blessed beyond measure to know so many other dedicated, caring and educated technologists who are just as passionate as I am. Providing patients with safe medical imaging examinations and radiation therapy treatments is the prime goal for RTs,” she said.

Her experience in her work seems to reflect the occupational trends. A career in Radiologic Technology (RT) can be a satisfying one. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics Outlook (BLSO) the field is projected to grow faster than average at 9 percent for all employment, with Oregon itself having higher than average wages. The Bureau attributes this to the fact that as the population ages “there will be an increase in medical conditions that require imaging as a tool for making diagnoses.” (BLSO)

Most RTs attend a two or four-year program, ending up with either an associate's or a bachelor's degree. After graduation, there is a national board exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) for licensing and credentials. In Oregon, all RTs must also be licensed through the Oregon Board of Medical Imaging (OBMI).

The career can be a challenging one, as the RT’s often see people during some of the most difficult times in their life. Twenty-eight year veteran of the profession, Susan Putnam-Hopkins is an MRI technologist at Salem Health and twice president of the OSRT. Hospital RT’s interact with admitted and out-patients from the hospital. “Being an MRI technologist allows me to see people through these steps of their battle with cancer or other major disease processes. Not all outcomes are the best but if I can make one patient feel better for just one moment, laugh or smile, I have done my job.”

“Rad techs are the kind of people who really care about what’s on the inside,”  Guzman adds.