03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

National Radiologic Technology Week

Many of you are likely thinking "ho hum, who cares." Read on and I guarantee the next time you go for an X-ray, CT scan, etc., you will think about saying "thank you" to the radiologic technologist who is helping to acquire your image.

Every profession and public issue on the planet has a designated week. A quick Google search uncovered a plethora of weeks used to celebrate just about everything from Administrative Professionals Week and National Health IT Week to the ever popular National Clown Week. So why does the week of November 8-16, stand out as so important amongst a sea of other "weeks"?

National Radiologic Technology Week is celebrated annually to recognize the vital work of Radiologic Technologists across the nation. The celebration takes place each November to commemorate the anniversary of the X-ray's discovery by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on Nov. 8, 1895. The week-long celebration calls attention to the valuable work of Radiologic Technologists. The highly technical images acquired by these healthcare professionals play an integral role in the medical process and in the lives of millions of patients.

Millions of images are acquired each and every day, however, not necessarily by Registered Technologists or RTs. An RT is responsible for capturing images using ionizing radiation (X-ray, CT, flouro), safely. They are also responsible for ensuring that the image they help to
acquire provides the interpreting radiologists and referring physicians with the information they need to make, confirm or exclude a diagnosis accurately. The work of these professionally trained experts is vital to the healthcare industry and to quality patient care.

In order to be a Registered Technologist, an RT, one must graduate from a JRCERT (Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology) Accredited Radiography Program: Upon successful graduation, the person is deemed eligible to sit for the ARRT (American Registry of Radiologic Technologist) Registry: After completing educational preparation standards, complying with ethics standards, and passing a certification exam, a person is certified by ARRT. Registration is the annual procedure required to maintain registration of the certification. Only technologists who are currently
registered - have renewed within the past year - may designate themselves as ARRT Registered Technologists and use the initials "RT" after their names.

Based on the accuracy and clarity of your images, treatment decisions are determined by your physician, e.g., no further treatment needed; additional imaging required; surgery indicated, etc. An unclear or a poorly positioned image can result in a false negative examination and affect the interpretation. An examination may be reported as normal because the subtle or occult finding is masked or obscured by poor image quality. It is in the very early stages of a disease or a condition, when the finding is small and/or subtle that the diagnosis is most critical and when treatment can be the most effective. An early diagnosis limits unnecessary and prolonged pain and suffering; prevents a delay of necessary intervention, and more importantly, averts possible untimely mortality.

So, the next time you require an X-ray or CT examination for a medical concern, chat with your radiology technologist. Find out if they are an RT. Ask him/her about their training and think about saying "thank you" for doing a good job. Ultimately, your diagnosis and treatment may depend on their expertise.