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Have you ever wondered who may be performing your x-ray examination? Chances are it's not a highly qualified individual.

Many offices and clinics have taken the liberty to hire Medical Assistants with Basic X-Ray Machine Operator (BMO) licenses to perform not only their Medical Assistant position but also the Radiologic Technologist's position. Medical Assistants are highly qualified individuals who are able to give injections, apply bandages, take vital signs, and assist physicians; however they are not highly qualified to perform x-ray examinations.

The requirements to obtain a BMO license in the state of Florida are extremely simple. Buy the study guide, read it, and take a test on it. The second you've passed the test you are able to "Perform all general radiographic procedures under the direction of a licensed physician".

How do I know this? Because I've done it. Before I went to X-Ray school, I worked in a facility that allowed me to perform basic radiographic examinations under a BMO license. Every other technologist in the facility was certified under the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) which requires two years of schooling in addition to passing a National Registry which compared to the BMO examination looks like Chinese Mandarin. A year after obtaining my BMO license I attended X-ray school and after two years of vigorous training, I graduated and passed the National Registry becoming a true Radiologic Technologist.

In my two years of training to become an RT, I performed over 2,400 hours of radiographic examinations before having the privilege of attempting to take my National Registry. Guess how many hours I trained before I took the BMO test...Zero. I took dozens of classes and read close to a hundred books about the theory and practice of anatomy, physiology, radiation, physics, etc. prior to taking my knowledge and putting it to use on the National Registry. Guess how many books I read before I took the BMO test...One. Classes taken?...Zero. I took literally thousands of radiographs under the supervision and direction of ARRT Certified technologists being critiqued on everything from how much radiation to use to why I didn't compliment the patient's shoes. How many radiographs did I take before taking my BMO test?...Zero.

However, the day I received my letter from the state of Florida indicating that I passed my test, I was a certified Basic X-Ray Machine Operator; I was exposing people left and right with my vast knowledge and experience in radiology. Except that knowledge wasn't exactly vast. I consistently needed help, not only with positioning the patient and knowing what radiation dose to use, but simply on how to TALK to the patient. I didn't have one iota of an idea on how to even approach a patient! This was not discussed in my BMO study guide! What was I to do? Luckily I worked with some of the best X-Ray Technologists I have ever met and they guided me in the right direction. Not only with techniques and protocols, but to the front door of a qualified X-Ray School.

As an ARRT Certified Radiologic Technologist, I know that patient safety is THE most important aspect of this profession. I cannot simply sit back and allow patients to be radiated by people that don't have a clue as to what they're doing. I urge every reader of this document to ask, prior to examination, if the person performing it is certified by the ARRT. Please do not support the declination of patient safety and integrity of my education and profession. The Florida Department of Health has a complaint form that can be filed with them if you feel that your examination has been performed by someone that is not qualified for the position. You can call 1-888 419-3456 or (850) 245-4339 to request a form by mail. Or visit http://www.doh.state.fl.us/mqa/enforcement/enforcehowto.htm .

Curtis J. Carpenter R.T. (R)(CT)

Curtis Carpenter is the founder and president of Reliable Radiography based in Vero Beach, Florida.

Visit the Blog at reliableradiography.blogspot.com

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Comment by Timothy Clark on June 1, 2012 at 2:10am

Great article.  Radiation safety is very important and every involve in radiation, should practice every technique possible.  Great FREE App to play, to help remind us of radiation safety is Radman Lite.  Try it, it is fun and a great way to learn. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/radman-lite/id495480904?mt=8


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