Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply?
Admission to the Radiographic Sciences Program is competitive. Students will be evaluated using grades in prerequisite courses (i.e. Core Objectives and Program Requirements), 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.
If I'm not accepted into the program can I re-apply?
Yes, students that have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have completed ALL OF THE PREREQUISITE CLASSES (i.e. Core Objectives and Program Requirements) 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.
How many people apply to the program and how many are accepted?
- In 2018, 38 students applied and 21 were admitted
- 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
Do all pre-requisites have to be taken before being accepted into the radiology program?
The courses required for acceptance into the program are those listed as Core Objectives and Program Requirements in the student brochure. Students are accepted into the program based on a point system for grades obtained in those courses. Also, Idaho residents receive an additional 4 points and students who complete at least 17 of the prerequisite courses at ISU receive an additional 8 points. 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 prerequisite courses.
What is the average GPA for students accepted into the program?
The class accepted in 2019 had an average GPA of 3.64.
The class accepted in 2018 had an average GPA of 3.78.
The class accepted in 2017 had an average GPA of 3.63.
What is the benefits of doing the four-year Bachelor of Science Degree over the three-year Associate of Applied Science degree?
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 Program Requirement 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.
If accepted to the program will I be able to work a job and do well in the program or does it require too much time?
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.
Is the program accredited by the JRCERT?
Yes, the Radiographic Science Program at Idaho State University is accredited by the JRCERT. 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. Programmatic accreditation through the JRCERT is another sign that the RS program meets the highest standards of educational quality.
Where is the program on campus?
The program 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 program 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.
What types of degrees are offered in this program?
The Radiographic Science Program offers programs of professional training in radiography. Students who complete the program earn a baccalaureate degree. This four-year Bachelor of Science in Radiographic Science degree allows students to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification exam. Those who pass the ARRT exam are given the title of Radiologic Technologist, RT(R).
Where do the students do their clinical rotation?
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 Madison, Idaho Falls Family and Sports Medicine, Franklin County Medical Center, and Malad Hospital.
How are clinical rotations assigned?
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.
What are the different imaging modalities?
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 ionizing 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.
What specialized modalities can you learn and where can you take the classes?
Most imaging modalities can be learned on the job. However, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) has adopted certification exams for all of these modalities. Now, a technologist can become certified in each modality. It is recommended by the ISU faculty to attend a school that specializes in teaching these modalities. A specialized modality can take 1 semester to 18 months. ISU offers MRI, CT, mammography, bone densitometry, and interventional radiology as postgraduate studies for students. Starting in summer 2019 ISU will offer a certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ultrasound). 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.
Can you specialize in CT, MRI, and US or would you recommend picking one specialty?
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.
Is continuing education required in this profession?
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.
Are all x-ray machines alike?
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 image receptor. 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. There is CT Scan equipment that can be programmed to speak the language of the patient. Breathing instructions were delivered in a voice that the patient recognizes and is familiar with.
Computed Radiography (CR) and Direct Radiology (DR) are the most common x-ray imaging technologies today. The old method of x-ray film is only used in small, rural offices. 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.
Does the program teach me how to interact with people?
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. All the faculty in the Radiographic Science Program at Idaho State University are registered radiologic technologists. This means you get to learn from educators who have experience working in the field and know what it takes to make students professional health care workers.
What jobs can a Radiologic Technologist be trained for?
The program at Idaho State University is an undergraduate degree program in Radiologic Technology. A Radiographer specializes in performing x-ray exams, acquiring diagnostic images, and assisting the Radiologist in the more complicated procedures. The Radiologist is someone who has attended medical school and has then specialized in interpreting radiographs and other diagnostic images. 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.
Where can I find a job?
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.
Will I be able to get jobs after graduate?
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. 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.
What is the job placement rate for students graduating from the Radiographic Science Program at ISU?
This link shows the job placement rate of our graduates for the last few years.
What skills does this job require?
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.
Is Ultrasound a growing radiography profession and how long does it take to become certified?
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. Starting in summer of 2019 this is advanced level program will be taught at ISU as a 12 month certificate program. Boise State University in Boise, Idaho and Weber University in Ogden, Utah have 12-18 month programs in Ultrasound.
What kinds of lifestyles do radiographers live? (Working hours, salary, places they are needed, etc.)
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.)
What kinds of things would you expect to see and do as a radiographer in a hospital?
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.
Is there danger from x-rays?
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. Because we follow these safety guidelines, radiograhers can still work while they are pregnant. Being a practicing technologist does not preclude you from having children and raising a family.
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 dosimetry 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 0.5 rem per year for the general population. The limit that has been set by the Radiation Safety Committee at Idaho State University is 1 rem per year for our students. We have been able to stay within those guidelines.
How much radiation does a radiographer receive over a year?
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 100 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.
Is becoming a radiographer and then specializing in CT or some other modality, and then pursuing an education to become a physician a good route to pursue?
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.
I’m almost finished with my HCA requirements that are needed for the bachelor’s degree. I can see the importance of these classes for supervisory position but was wondering if other Rad Science programs require these courses?
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.
What subscription would you recommend for a radiographic journal or magazine?
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://apps.asrt.org/JoinRenew/JoinRenew.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