It seems to me that there is a preconceived notion in the "radiology world" that there are too many Radiologic Technologists in the so-called employment pool. The theory behind this is that there are tons of public and private educational facilities with radiology programs installed into their curriculum. A radiology program is fairly simple and cheap for an institution to implement and conduct, and the demand of students seems to continue climbing. Along with federal and state subsidies and low interest rates on student loans, a school can produce literally hundreds of Radiologic Technologists per year with limited immediate cost to the student.
There are currently no limitations on how many students an institution may accept although there are rumors and reports that the government is keeping an eye on it. And although there may be a time when the government begins to crack down on graduation numbers, the numbers are still relatively high. The ironic thing to me however, is that radiology continues to be an area with potential staffing shortfalls. While research shows that the shortage of radiologic technologists has eased, projections indicate that demand for radiologic technologists will continue to outpace supply. Recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports predict the need for approximately 76,000 additional radiographers between 2004 and 2014. Recent ASRT enrollment studies report that an insufficient number of radiologic technologists will be available to meet the demand for additional staff.
Just as the general population is aging, so is the average age of radiologic technologists in the work force. A large segment of the profession is composed of baby boomers who are approaching retirement age. This demographic also will add to staffing problems. Currently, more than 35% of radiologic technology professionals have reached the age of 50, with the average age rising incrementally the past few years. In addition, the radiologic technology educator population is reaching retirement age quickly, which may represent a greater staffing problem than in other areas of the profession. Educational institutions will be challenged to replace retiring program directors and instructors while continuing to meet the growing demand for radiologic technologists.
The role of radiologic technology staff in the workplace is also shifting. As new career opportunities such as the radiologist assistant become available, organizations will use these advanced-level technologists to increase productivity and workflow. It is anticipated that advanced roles in nuclear medicine, ultrasound and radiation therapy will be developed in the near future.
So, my question is, are there really too many Radiologic Technologists out there? There seems to be thousands of new R.T.'s yearly but statistics show that these new graduates are coming out of school with jobs. How long will this last? I can't pretend to know, but as of now having R.T. credentials means you're working.
Curtis J. Carpenter is the founder and President of Reliable Radiography, a radiology staffing agency based in Vero Beach, Florida.
Visit the blog at reliableradiography.blogspot.com