Frequently Asked Questions
Admission to the Radiographic Sciences Program is competitive. Students will be evaluated using grades in pre-professional/prerequisite courses, and overall grade point average. The applicant pool will be narrowed down to 30 students who will be interviewed by an advisory committee, and 20 students will be selected. Procedures for admission to the program include:
- Completion of the admission procedures to the university.
- Completion and submission of the Radiographic Science application. Applications are available in December prior to the deadline of May 15th for the year in which you apply.
- Completion of the necessary prerequisite coursework.
- Submission of official transcripts of all college and/or university courses completed.
- Pay application fee.
Yes, students that have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have completed ALL OF THE CLASSES in pre-professional years I and II will be awarded 50 additional points for each year that they re-apply to the program. We currently accept 18-20 students per year. We are limited by the number of clinical sites available in southeastern Idaho.
Applications are accepted by May 15 prior to the fall semester for which you are applying. The program runs for two consecutive years and includes one summer internship that lasts 8 weeks.
There are other radiographic programs in the United States. ISU offers one of about 30 baccalaureate programs in the nation. Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and Weber State University in Ogden, Utah also offer excellent programs. To assure placement in a program students may consider applying to several institutions. The advantage of ISU's program is that the undergraduate degree is in Radiographic Science.
- In 2017, 34 students applied and 21 were admitted
- In 2016, 37 students applied and 21 were admitted
- In 2015, 41 students applied and 21 were admitted
- In 2014, 49 students applied and 20 were admitted
- In 2013, 52 students applied and 18 were admitted
The courses required for acceptance into the program are those listed as Core Objectives and Program Requirements in the student brochure. Students are accepted based on a point system for grades obtained in those courses only. It is recommended that students have all of these courses completed prior to May 15th of the year which the student plans on applying to the program. This assures the highest points possible A student can be accepted if they are missing some of the classes, but please remember that this decreases the chances of getting into the program. For the past few years all of the students selected have completed all of the pre-professional courses.
The class that was accepted in 2017 had an average GPA of 3.63.
The Bachelor of Science option prepares the student for a mid-managerial position in a radiology practice. It includes classes such as accounting, statistics, and several health care administration courses (the pre-professional year II courses).
Initially there would be no benefit, but as your career progresses and opportunities to advances come along the Bachelor of Science student will be more qualified academically to pursue one of these options. There are a few associate degree programs in Idaho.
The program is quite rigorous and does require a lot of time. Junior students come to the department at the college on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the didactic portion of their training. On Tuesday and Thursday these students work at a clinical site for eight consecutive hours. When the student becomes a senior the didactic portion of the training is on Tuesday and Thursday, while clinical is held for eight consecutive hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Can you work? Sure, it depends on you as an individual. Many current students work part time. In fact, many hospitals and clinics hire second-year students to work for them in the evenings and on weekends.
The JRCERT stands for the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. The purpose of the JRCERT is to assure the public that professionals providing radiologic technology services have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform quality diagnostic and therapeutic procedures on patients. ISU is accredited by the JRCERT.
The department is located in the Helen Beckley Nursing Building. This is building 66 on upper campus located in the L.E. Gale Science Complex in close proximity to the departments of biological science, physical therapy, psychology, nursing, and speech pathology and audiology. The department occupies a suite of offices which are located on the main floor (Room 225). The classroom and laboratory are located in Room 120 in the basement. Included are two energized radiography rooms in which students receive training on body positioning utilizing simulated human models (in other words your fellow students). This prepares students for the clinical internship experience.
The Radiographic Science Program, offers programs of professional training in radiography. Generally the baccalaureate degree is offered. This four-year Bachelor of Science degree is awarded 99 percent of the time; however, the Associate of Applied Science degree can be awarded to students in the Baccalaureate program who have not completed all of the curriculum requirements. This allows the student to take the ARRT exam prior to graduating with the Bachelor of Science degree. These students then complete the B.S. degree requirements and ultimately graduated with the B.S. degree.
Currently we have 7 students at Portneuf Medical Center, 7 students at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical, 4 students at Bingham Memorial Hospital, and 3 students at Madison Memorial Hospital. Upon admittance to the program students are assigned a clinical site. We try to accommodate students by assigning them to clinical sites were they reside; however, we often randomly assign students. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the clinical sites and are assigned to the SAME clinical site for the entire length of the program. All of our students rotate to at least one smaller satellite facilities such as the Blackfoot Medical Center, Teton Radiology, Caribou Memorial Hospital, Franklin County Medical Center, and Malad Hospital.
We randomly assign students to clinical sites after we look at addresses placed on their application when they apply. This means if a student lives in Idaho Falls we try to place that student in Idaho Falls. The same holds true for Blackfoot and Rexburg. If people live in those areas (or place addresses on their applications when they apply) then they will be assigned to those clinical sites. Other than that we draw names and place students randomly.
A kidney stone may be diagnosed from an x-ray, an ultrasound, or CT. The x-ray is probably the cheapest and fastest method, but the ultrasound does not use any radiation (great when the patient is pregnant) and the CT can tell you a lot of detail about the kidneys' health and may locate other, smaller stones. Now, if the patient came in for a different condition, such as hip pain, perhaps nothing will be seen on an x-ray. MRI or CT might both show arthritic changes, but the MRI will cost about $1,000 more. However, MRI could not be used if the patient is very claustrophobic or if he/she has metal implants of certain types.
Many times, various modalities are used in conjunction to arrive at a more complete picture. A mammogram shows a mass, possibly a cyst. An ultrasound confirms a fluid filled cyst. A bone scan (nuclear medicine) may show an unusual uptake in the right arm. An x-ray confirms a metastatic lesion. No single imaging modality will replace another.
Most imaging modalities can be learned on the job. However, in the last few years the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) has adopted certification exams for all of these modalities. Now, a technician can become certified in each modality. A specialized modality can take 1 semester to 18 months. ISU offers MRI, CT, and mammography as a postgraduate study for students. Boise State University offers a 1 year program in Ultrasound (US), MRI, and CT. The next closest place is Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. It offers outreach programs in all of the specialty areas that are listed above.
You can specialize in all three. If you are registered in CT, MRI, and US you would be highly sought after. This type of individual is needed especially in rural setting where resources are scarce. I would start by picking one and then working on the next. Many Rad Techs find something that they enjoy doing and eventually find a job doing just that modality.
Yes, continuing education is a requirement of this profession. Once the radiographer has successfully completed the registry exam he/she will need to show evidence of continuing education following the first registration renewal. Successful completion of the registry exam administered by the ARRT is adequate to fulfill CE requirements and is good through the first registration renewal. The biennium period begins the first day of the birth month and ends 25 months thereafter. Twenty-four credits are needed during each 24 month biennium. A minimum of 12 credits must be Category 'A' and must be approved by a recognized education provider. Twelve credits may be Category 'B' meaning that they do not need to be approved by a recognized education provider. It is the technologist's responsibility to obtain these credits. There are several avenues available that will help you with this process. The state and regional society often hold meetings that help technologist receive the credits they need. Many employers provide this opportunity also. Some employers provide radiographers with financing to help pay for education opportunities. Another avenue to obtain CE credit is the journal 'Radiologic Technology' published by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). This directed reading has a test that can be taken for CE credit.
Though most x-ray machines have similarities you will find major differences. There are a few terms that remain constant and they include kVp (kilovoltage), and mA (milliamperes). These values can be manipulated by the radiographer depending on the part that is radiographed. They are used to provide a technique to expose the x-ray film. Technology is a big part of this profession, and technology is always changing.
Most x-ray equipment is now computerized and requires people that are computer literate. I have worked with CAT Scan equipment that could be programed to speak the language of your patient. Breathing instructions were delivered in a voice that the patient recognizes and is familiar with.
The trend now is a movement towards a 'filmless' department. Computed Radiography (CR) and Direct Radiology (DR) is the future. Idaho State University is one of a few institutions that offers both computed radiography and direct radiography in the program. ISU has state of the art facilities for training purposes.
You will interact with faculty, other students, clinical instructors, technologists, patients, physicians, and other health care workers on a day to day basis. This program will teach you the needed personal skills required for these types of interactions.
The program at Idaho State University is an undergraduate degree program in Radiologic Technology. A Radiographer specializes in performing x-ray exams and assisting the Radiologist in the more complicated procedures. A radiographer can be trained to work in several imaging modalities in the field. When graduating from the program at Idaho State University the student will be eligible to sit for the National Registry exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Upon completion, the title of the individual will be a Registered Radiologic Technologist. The ARRT also includes certification exams for other modalities. These include: CT Scan, MRI, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, Mammography, and Angiography. Certification in these modalities can be obtained by advanced educational pursuits or on the job training. ISU provides a gateway for ARRT Registered Technologist to become certified in CT, MRI, Mammography, Cardiovascular Imaging, and DXA. These can be obtained by post baccalaureate studies.
Jobs are available in numerous places including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, health departments, and at the INL (Idaho National Laboratory). This means that you can go just about anyplace for employment. Jobs are available in all 50 states and internationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment of radiologic technologists is expected to increase by about 12 percent from now to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.
Currently there is a demand for Radiographers nationally. Employment is projected to grow faster than average; those with knowledge of more than one diagnostic imaging procedure will have the best employment opportunities. Though we can never predict the future, the need for qualified Radiographers is escalating but has been more difficult locally to obtain employment. According to the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation will need more Radiologic Technologists in the next few years. With the American population growing older on the average, it is expected that the need for medical care will continue to expand. As long as medical care is required, the professional services of the radiographer will be in demand.
This link shows the job placement rate of our graduates for the last few years.
The job requires professionals who can use their mind quickly, efficiently, and can adapt to "whatever comes your way". You will be required to make quick judgment calls, and have good eye hand coordination. This position requires an individual that can stand for long periods of time, can assist in trauma without becoming emotional, and perform in critical care areas. Good people skills are necessary along with empathy and compassion.
Ultrasound is in high demand. Employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase by about 23 percent through 2026—faster than the average for all occupations. Though some physicians perform Ultrasound studies, most do not have the time needed to perform all the studies for their patients. There are several options for education in this field. The (ARDMS) American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers require applicants to have 12 to 24 months of clinical ultrasound training experience. There are several certifications each requiring a separate test. The certifications include, abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology, vascular, neurosonology, ophthalmology, and echocardiography. This is an advanced level program that is not taught at ISU. Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and Weber University in Ogden, Utah have 12-18 month programs in Ultrasound.
The salary range (for new graduate students) in this area is $18.00 - $ 22.00 an hour. Other neighboring states pay significantly higher wages. Technologists are usually required to be on call and often work overtime. The hours vary, but you can expect that hospitals will need your services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. People get sick on holidays and it is not unusual to have to work on Christmas. You have to be the right type of person for this type of work. It can be very rewarding, but very demanding. If you work in a physician office the hours seem to be more regular (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
I will try to list a few things that you could be found doing in the imaging department. If you came in early say...... 7:00 a.m. you may first find yourself in the ICU doing portable chest radiographs of the patients there. Next, you could be in the intensive care nursery performing portable chest radiographs on new born babies. There are patients that need portable radiographs.
If you were assigned to surgery you first would look at the surgery schedule for the day and determine which cases needed to have x-rays performed. Some examples include: gallbladder surgery, retrograde IVP's, joint replacements, fracture pinnings, etc. (just to name a few). Some of the larger hospitals have 1-2 techs working full-time in these areas providing imaging services during OR procedures.
The morning schedule in the department includes scheduled outpatient exams. These include such exams as: Upper GI's, Barium enema's, VCUG's, PICC Line Placements, tube placements, ERCP's, etc. These exams can take upwards of an hour each to complete. Afternoons are reserved for other fluoro exams, some which include: Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar myelograms, arthrograms, sialography, hysterosalpingograms, lumbar punctures and feeding tube placements (just to name a few). In addition to the above outpatients can show up at anytime needing exams. These can be x-rays of any part of the body.
X-rays can be dangerous if used improperly. The risk is significantly lowered as we use ionizing radiation in a safe and prudent manner. It is the responsibility of the radiographer to assure that patients, co-workers, and self are protected from radiation as much as possible. We use time, distance, and shielding to accomplish low levels of radiation exposure. This means we minimize the time spent in the x-ray field, maximize our distance, and use shielding whenever appropriate. If you have been to a hospital and witnessed a radiographer at work, you will often see him/her wearing lead aprons or gloves. Simple guidelines such as wearing protective devices, protect us from stray ionizing radiation.
As radiographers you will need to know how exposure factors affect radiation dose. One must constantly be aware of methods used to reduce exposure. The objective of the ALARA principle is to use "As Low As Reasonably Achievable." As radiographers we must constantly ask ourselves, "Could I have received the same results radiographically with less exposure? We also wear film badges to monitor the amount of radiation that we receive. Idaho State University has guidelines that are much lower than those imposed by the NCRP. (National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements).
The NCRP states: "The primary goal is to keep radiation exposure of the individual well below a level at which adverse effects are likely to be observed during his lifetime. Another objective is to minimize the incidence of genetic effects." Every effort should be exerted to keep the dose of radiation at the lowest possible levels to people who are well. The use of radiation should be used to diagnose disease processes in sick individuals, as long as it is provided by radiographers or physicians who have been trained and experienced in making exposures. The effective absorbed dose equivalent is measured in rems. This is a unit of radiation measurement. Occupational exposed personnel have different limits than the general public. That limit is 5 rem per year for the radiation worker and .5 rem per year for the general population. The limit that has been set by the Radiation Safety Committee at Idaho State University is .8 rem per year for our students. We have been able to stay within those guidelines.
Though I personally consider the risk to be extremely low there are people who argue that there are significant risks to low levels of radiation. The safe limit imposed by the NRC is 5,000 mrem per year. I have personally never even come close to approaching this dose and it is considered the safe dose. Rarely do students receive more than 200 mrem in a year. This is also way below the accepted levels that are deemed safe. Precautions can be taken to avoid exposure to radiation. At ISU we follow the ALARA principle meaning "As Low as Reasonably Achievable." This can be obtained by the three cardinal rules of time, distance, and shielding. Thus, one should minimize his/her time in the field, increase his/her distance from the source, and use shielding whenever possible. Personally I do not think the exposures that we receive as Rad Techs are anything to worry about. However the author of the following article seems to disagree with me. Here is a very interesting link: Please read it; it may be helpful. At the least, it will give you something to think about.
The didactic portion of the program does not follow the rigorous regime of advanced level chemistry courses, and other biological science curriculum need for entrance to most medical schools. Though the B.S. degree in the Radiologic Science is a wonderful accomplishment, it does not include all courses that you must take for entrance into medical school. However, several students that I personally know have gained entrance into medical school with Radiographic Science as their undergraduate field of study. This is because these students went on and finished the needed courses to apply to Medical School.
These courses could count in other B.S. degree programs. Each case would need to be evaluated individually by the particular institution. The program at ISU is a B.S. program and it is these classes that distinguish it from other such programs. Granted, not everyone wants to be a manager; however, that is the way the curriculum has been designed presently. We are currently investigating other options, which will then give the student a broader range of choices. For example: replacing the HCA courses with computer science courses, or replacing the HCA with education courses. This then would give the student three different options. The first would be a Rad Science degree with emphasis placed in (1) computer science, (2) education, or (3) management.
If you are looking for an academic journal I would recommend "Radiologic Technology." It has an editorial review board and the articles have been peer reviewed. You can receive this by becoming a member of the ASRT.
The ASRT's website is: https://www.asrt.org/content/join/join.aspx
In addition, a good website to sign up for is called Aunt Minnie. This website has good information including a chat room.
Here is the URL: http://www.auntminnie.com/index.asp?sec=def