Radiology Technicians, EKG technicians, and Certified nursing assistants must all, obviously, be trained before they can begin working in their respective fields. These three allied health career paths are popular ones which are expected to grow in terms of overall demand in coming years. Comparing the educational requirements of each can be a good way to get insight into whether or a not a specific career is for you.
Radiology technicians are responsible for the use and maintenance of medical imaging technology that uses radiation, primarily x-ray imaging. The educational process for becoming a radiology technician generally consists of either a certificate, Associate, or Bachelor’s degree program that includes both class work and clinical field experience. These programs are varied in length and thoroughness, with certificate programs lasting 18 – 24 months, Associate programs lasting two years, and Bachelor programs lasting four years. These programs must be accredited and are usually accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
Once training is complete students usually sit for certification exams given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or attend to meeting other state requirements for licensing.
EKG technicians assist cardiologists and other physicians in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions. They administer monitoring, testing, and care techniques and technologies such as the electrocardiogram (EKG) and also handle various administrative functions.
Education for becoming an EKG technician usually consists of a 2 year Associate degree program in cardiology. It is also possible to get a Bachelor’s degree in this health field, and though it is not as common to get a four year degree before becoming an EKG technician, this option is on the increase. These programs are accredited by an organization called The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals CAHEEP.
Though not a legal requirement, certification as an EKG technician is offered by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). These organizations usually offer credentialing upon successful completion of an exam.
In addition to this formal academic education, EKG technicians also usually receive practical training at the workplace – namely a hospital, clinic, physician’s office or other such health care facility.
Certified nursing assistants, or CNAs, are involved in assisting and caring for patients at hospitals, in other health care facilities, and at home. They help patients with routine activities, such as eating, walking, and bathing, and monitor patients’ general state and/or vital signs.
The training for becoming a CNA is not usually as involved as the two above profession mentioned. Training in the field is either given by employers or by schools that offer CNA educational programs. These programs are often several months in duration.
In order to work as a CNA, certain federally mandated requirements must be fulfilled. A CNA must have completed at least 75 hours of training that is approved by the state in which they are employed. They also must pass a competency evaluation. Successful completion of this evaluation may be all that is required in order for an individual to be given the Certified Nursing Assistant title. There may be other requirements, but these vary from state to state.
Of these three professions, radiology technology is probably the most intensive as far as education is concerned. Though two year Associate programs are a common type, it is common for people to get Bachelor degrees in it as well. There are a number of different routes, but there must be fairly extensive and in depth instruction in x-ray technology, radiation safety, and patient care included in the programs. There are often mandatory licensing requirements, and these must be achieved through successful completion of a program that is accepted by ARRT and/or the state in question.
By comparison, EKG training is typically only two years, and on the job training is common. There are not usually state licensing requirements for the profession, though voluntary certification is often recommended. So this career path is a bit less high pressure than radiology technology. This is due largely to the fact that most of the activities in which an EKG technician is involved are not as dangerous as x-rays can be if improperly handles and used.
Finally, the CNA field is the least educationally intensive. It usually, as noted, lasts only months rather than years, and is frequently offered completely or in large part by employers. There is the requirement to pass the competency evaluation, but this is usually not as challenging from an academic or performance standpoint as the two above career areas. Work as a certified nursing assistant is important and a vital part of medical teams.
Whichever career you choose, hard work in school tends to pay off later. So select a profession that interests you and for which you feel ready to meet the educational requirements. Close attention paid to your studies is the first step toward a successful career, whether it is in the fields mentioned above or any other.