Though most radiology technician education takes place at college, universities, and teaching hospitals, for some people this in not practical. Time or distance constraints make online learning a desirable option. But are there actually online courses in which somebody can learn to be a radiologist? Let’s take a look at the online educational options available for this career path.
The first thing to bear in mind is that there are two major parts to a radiology technology degree: the course work and the clinical experience portion. Thus, it isn’t possible to completely finish a degree in radiology technology online, because there will always have to be a significant clinical practicum to fulfill. And it’s a good thing too: would you want someone who had only done online coursework and had never used an x-ray machine to give you an x-ray? Obviously not. Taking x-rays and adjusting and maintaining x-ray imaging equipment is what the majority of the job entails, and it boils down to a practical, hands on type of knowledge and skill.
What there do appear to be as regards online radiology technician schools are ones that give Associates and Bachelors’ degrees in the academic portion of health sciences fields. Often these aren’t specifically radiology degrees, but have names such as “Associates Degree in Healthcare Information Technology,” “Bachelor’s Degree in Health Services Management,” or “Bachelor of Health Services Administration.” There are some more focused degrees, such as the “AOS in radiography” and “BS in Radiologic Sciences” given by the Pima Medical Institute, but that seems to be more the exception than the rule.
Upon completion of these online degrees, a student is able to undertake a program of practical instruction and clinical field experience. The question is, however, whether it’s worth pursuing an online degree, since significant time and money will have to be spent anyway in the later more practical phase. Since it is not possible to go the whole way online, why go part of the way? This is something that is up to the student, but it is worth bearing in mind that it will only save them so much time, namely the time necessary for some kind of commute to a university or teaching hospital. Online classes also offer more flexible scheduling of course, and that is another reason why people might find these types of distance learning programs attractive.
Another factor to bear in mind is the question of whether online radiology technician schools and programs are as highly regarded as traditional colleges and universities. This is often a somewhat complicated question, because a number of factors go into the assessment of the value of a particular degree, and in the end the perception of employers is what counts regarding the job a student gets. The general pattern seems to be that degrees from traditional collegiate classroom programs tend to be favored somewhat over those achieved from an online program, but factors such as experience and the reputation of the school play a large part.
All schools that offer programs in radiology must be accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re all alike. Some are mainly career schools that specialize in online degrees, while others are standard colleges or universities that simply offer a distance learning option as part of their ordinary curriculum. Anyone planning to attend one of these online programs should thoroughly look into the backgrounds of the schools in question to make sure they are reputable. Reviews by former students can be found at review sites on the web, and this is one of the best ways to get a sense of how honest, reasonable, and high level an online school is.
Though not as common as some may believe, scams do also exist. These are sites that demand tuition money up front for radiology technician courses but are not accredited or even legitimate institutions. Don’t be gullible enough to fall for one of these schemes. They are fairly easy to spot. Usually they will offer quick programs of several months and make claims about what your earnings will be when you complete the program. They also tend to ask for tuition money up front, before you have even really familiarized yourself with their program. They may in addition be cagy and evasive about customer service or with information in general.
So in summary, the answer is yes, there are online radiology schools, at least ones that cover the academic portion of the educational process. However, there are many mitigating factors and you are advised to consider whether you actually need to take the online route since this is such a practical field. If you do decide finally that distance learning is the best option for the academic portion of your radiology technician education, then take the necessary time to make sure that the school you enroll in is as complete and as reputable as possible.