All posts by Ekaterina Kostareva

Survey from December, 2015: Future of the Radiologist Workforce

In the face of the widely anticipated physician shortage, many of our imaging leaders have questioned what these shifting dynamics mean for the future of the radiology workforce. In response, we’ve compiled our latest on the current makeup and future of the radiologist workforce to help you better understand where the workforce is heading and how to prepare for the anticipated changes.

The current state:

According to the American College of Radiology’s 2015 Commission on Human Resources Workforce survey findings, for the first time ever, the percentage of body imagers (including gastrointestinal and genitourinary imaging) now trumps the percentage of general radiologists in the workforce. These body radiologists currently make up the largest proportion of the radiologist workforce and the number of those employed in this sub-specialty has grown by 72% over the last two years!

Conversely, the number of general radiologists has fallen by almost half in the past two years, now accounting for 12.8% of all radiologists. The other largest groups of specialists are below, listed in descending order:

  • General interventional radiologists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Musculoskeletal imagers
  • Breast imagers
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Basic research

The largest proportion (30%) of radiology jobs in 2015 are projected to be in the South, followed by 14% in the Midwest, with the remaining jobs in the Mid-Atlantic, West, Southwest, and New England areas, in decreasing order. While the largest majority of jobs are projected to be in private practice (47%), the American College of Radiology estimates another 32% will be in academic practice and 17% in hospitals.

Signs of a looming shortage:

Recent data has indicated strong signs of an already existing lack of radiologists to meet market demand. A historical perspective study from the Journal of Academic Radiology recently shed light on the outsized demand for radiologists, calling attention to a rise in the number of residency positions from 1,090 to 1,156 in the last 5 years despite applicants for radiology residency positions dropping during that same period from 1,431 to 1,141. Further, given that 7% of all radiologists are older than age 65 and 22% are between the ages of 56 and 65, the looming retirement of a large portion of the radiology workforce threatens to create a further need for these specialists.

The experts estimate that outpatient imaging volumes will grow by 7% over the next five years. With increased access to health care being a top priority for providers and policy makers alike, the decreasing availability of radiologists may well indicate a potential radiologist shortage at a time of unprecedented demand. As is the case with many other medical specialties, elevating the role of the non-physician providers can pose an opportunity to meet this outstanding demand for imaging services despite physician shortages.

Source: The Advisory Board Company

If you are interested in getting the education in the field of Medical Imaging please check our offerings:
AS in Radiologic Technology Program (Concord Campus)
AS in Ultrasound Technology Program (San Mateo Campus and Fresno Campus)
AS in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Program (San Mateo Campus and Modesto Campus)
BS in Diagnostic Medical Imaging (via Distance Education)

Is nursing the right career for you?

Nursing is a career filled with endless personal and professional rewards. If you choose nursing, you are choosing to spend your life helping others, using skills that blend scientific knowledge with compassion and caring. There are few professions that offer such a rewarding combination of high tech and high touch.

But how do you know if this profession really is for you? Are you really fit to become a nurse?

You have a great amount of patience

Being a nurse, your patience gets to be tested numerous times. You get to encounter uncooperative patients, overly-demanding folks, grumpy doctors and many others. In order to stay in this profession, you need to be patient, and when I say patient, I mean really reallyreally patient plus understanding. Learn to know where they are coming from, what led them to act that way and try to understand it. Be patient enough to see perform your numerous tasks, patient enough to not give up on your patient, on the profession you’ve worked so hard for.

You are determined

Nursing isn’t for the weak. The road to becoming a nurse isn’t at all easy. There are tons of encounters that would leave a weak-willed person to run for the hills. You need to be able to be brave enough to face the challenges in this profession and be determined enough to succeed.

You are accepting and caring

Nurses “care”. You, as a nurse must be accepting and not discriminating. You must learn to respect the rights of others, despite their age, gender, social status, sexual orientations and beliefs. Nurses must demonstrate equal and unbiased compassion for all.

You are responsible

Unlike other professions that deal with paperwork, you as a nurse are dealing with real lives. One little mistake and you might put your patient’s life at risk. You must be responsible enough to know that every action of yours can effect to something, may it be big or small. Being an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse), you must assume legal and ethical accountability for your actions. Also, you must respect confidentiality, use good judgment, and be loyal to patients and to the profession.

You are open to change

You must be open to whatever comes your way. As a nurse, you must be flexible and know how to act appropriately in a specific situation. You must adapt to the situation as not everything happens as exactly as what has been expected. For example, you must know how to modify patient treatment plans as indicated by patients’ responses and conditions.

You work well with others

As the saying goes, “no man is an island”. You are not alone in this profession. In order to provide quality and effective care, you must learn how to collaborate with others, may it be your co-nurses, the doctors, radiologists and other members of the healthcare team. Each of you has their own functions, their own duties, and together you complement one another.

You are eager to learn

Learning does not just end upon receiving your college diploma. As what many say, learning is a lifelong process, and in nursing you get to experience that. There will always be something you don’t know about, something to read, tons to learn. In order to cope with the growing and evolving demands in healthcare one must be motivated enough to participate in continuing education programs, research groups, seminars and the like. If you hunger for knowledge, then this might seem like heaven to you, but if you are hesitant to explore new things, then this might not be the profession for you.

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine refers to medications that are attached to a radioisotope (radioactive material); the drug is called a radiopharmaceutical. Several different radiopharmaceuticals are available today to study various parts of the body and treat some conditions and diseases.

The radioisotope which is attached to the drug is usually called a “tracer”. The most common tracers used in nuclear medicine are thallium-201 and fludeoxyglucose (18F) (18F-FDG), gallium-67, indium-111), iodine-131, iodine-123, and technetium-99m.

The radiopharmaceutical is administered either by injection, orally (swallowing) or as an inhalation. It is designed to target a specific part of the body where there might be some abnormality or disease. The radioactive part of the drug emits gamma rays which are detected using a gamma camera. The doctor can then see what is happening inside the body.

Nuclear medicine is commonly used to evaluate the gallbladder, liver, thyroid, lungs and heart. Physiological function can be determined well using nuclear medicine, rather than anatomical detail.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine can, for example, be used to identify lesions deep inside the body without having to open up with patient (surgery). It can also determine whether certain organs are working properly; it can determine whether the heart is pumping blood adequately, or whether the brain is getting enough blood, and whether the brain cells are functioning properly.

After having a heart attack, nuclear medicine procedures can help accurately assess the damage to the patient’s heart.

Nuclear medicine is useful in locating the brain sites of seizures (epilepsy), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nuclear medicine can also be used to treat patients. Thousands of people with hyperthyroidism are treated every year using radioactive iodine. Certain types of cancers, as well as bone pain resulting from cancer can also be treated.

With the most advanced equipment, nuclear medicine images can be used almost simultaneously with CT scans, making detailed anatomical studies possible.

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic Resonance Imagine is usually referred to as MRI. MRI devices are large machines which look like large tubes; they have a big magnet in the circular area. The patient is laid down on a table, which then moves into the tube.

MRI devices
MRI devices are large machines which look like large tubes

Extremely powerful radio waves, between 10,000 and 30,000 times stronger than earth’s magnetic field are sent through the body. They force the nuclei of the body’s atoms into a new position. As they move back into their original place they emit radio waves. A scanner gathers these signals, sends them to a computer which turns them into an image on a screen. The images are based on where the incoming signals are coming from and how strong they are.

The human body is made up mostly of water. Water has hydrogen atoms. That is why hydrogen atoms are most commonly used to create an MRI scan. MRI scanners can create pictures of nearly any part of the body. Bones have the least number of hydrogen atoms, so they come out dark in the pictures, while blood or tissue (especially fatty tissue) look much brighter.

The timing of the radiowave pulses may be altered so that more data may be gathered on the different tissues being scanned.

Even parts of the body that are surrounded by bone can be clearly seen with an MRI scan, making it an ideal device for examining the spinal cord and brain.

MRI scans are helpful for finding tumors in the brain, as well as determining whether the cancer has spread beyond its place of origin. Many different studies on the brain can be done with MRI.

The heart and blood vessels show up clearly on MRI scans. Doctors often order these types of scans to determine whether there are any heart defects, as well as helping them work out whether they are new or long-term problems.

What is Ultrasound (Ultrasonography)?

An ultrasound scan is a medical device that utilizes high frequency sound waves to create an imagine (sonogram) of the inside of the human body, such as blood vessels, muscle, joints, the stomach, liver, tendons, or the heart.

Many believe that ultrasound is safer than other forms of imaging because it uses sound waves rather than radiation.

Apart from helping detect problems in certain parts of the body, ultrasonography can also help guide surgeons when they carry out biopsies.

Higher sound frequencies produce better images but cannot penetrate as deeply as lower frequencies.

Ultrasound program
An ultrasound scan is a medical device that utilizes high frequency sound waves to create an imagine (sonogram) of the inside of the human body

Ultrasound travels through fluids and soft tissues and bounces off denser surfaces. For example, when looking at the heart and blood vessels around it, ultrasound will travel through the blood, and bounce back off the heart valve.

The data of ultrasound bouncing back is processed in a computer, which then creates image on a monitor. If the doctor is viewing the gallbladder and there are no gallstone, the ultrasound with travel straight through, but will bounce back when there are stones.

The denser an object is, the harder the ultrasound bounces back. This echo (bouncing back) is what gives the ultrasound images their features – they can be seen on the screen as varying shades of gray.

Anesthetists sometimes use ultrasound for guidance when injecting anesthetics near nerves. Cardiac ultrasound refers to the creation of 2-D images of the heart. Some more modern machines can produce 3-D images.

Ultrasound can also be used to see how fast blood flows, or the state of cardiac tissue at specific points, by using pulses or continuous wave Doppler ultrasound.