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Scope of Practice
The scope of practice for the profession of Medical Radiation Technology involves the safe and effective application of all competencies through best practices encompassed in the use of ionizing radiation and other energy forms. It includes producing diagnostic images and performing diagnostic and therapeutic interventions as well as the evaluation and assessment of such images and therapeutic applications.
Scope of Practice Statement (PDF)
The Profession of Medical Radiation Technology
Medical radiation technology is a demanding and sophisticated profession. Ongoing advancements in technology, procedures and patient care make it one of the most rapidly evolving health care professions.
Medical radiation technologists (MRTs) are essential health-care providers who practice in one or more of the following disciplines: radiological technology, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine or magnetic resonance imaging.
As allied health professionals, MRTs provide service to both the public and private sectors within the Canadian health care system. MRTs work independently and collaboratively with other health care providers to care for a diverse patient population. As key members of the health care team, MRTs obtain the essential information for diagnosis and treatment, serving as advisor to radiologists, radiation oncologists and other health care providers. They also function as patient advocates, educators, health care researchers, technical and therapy specialists, and interdisciplinary consultants.
As such, members of this profession share common patient care values, including compassion, safety, and credibility as well as the professional values of organizational skills, interpersonal skills, effective communication, healthy work environment and work-life balance.
The education process includes graduating from an accredited program, completing a summary of clinical competence and completing a professional certification examination.
The guidelines and competencies for MRTs are established by the profession in consultation with, and with the validation of, external stakeholders and partners, including undergraduate training programs, provincial regulatory bodies and employers. The Canadian Medical Association's Conjoint Committee on Accreditation process validates that programs comply with these established standards. The education process assures that MRTs have the knowledge, skills and judgement to be competent entry-level health care providers in their chosen discipline of medical radiation technology.
Medical radiation technologists are required to have taken courses in:
- Relevant physics
- Relevant biology and protection
- Relevant pharmacology
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Creative thinking and improvisation
- Patient care skills
- Aseptic and septic techniques
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Equipment structure and operation
- Image processing principles
- Image acquisition, storage and transmission
- Image assessment
- Quality control / Quality assessment
- Computer processing
- Occupational health and safety hazards and preventions
- Relevant body mechanics
- Organizational skills
- Application of research outcomes to practice
- Relevant legislation
Life-long learning is a core value for the profession. Therefore, entry-level education is further supported by both formal and self-directed professional development programs encompassing cognitive, affective and clinical competence.
Each medical radiation technologist must exercise prudent and professional judgement consistent with their level of competency. MRTs are limited only by the specific legislation of the jurisdiction in which they practice, which includes the relevant Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics, and best practice guidelines.
Medical radiation technologists are expected to:
- Ensure the safety of their patients, co-workers and the general public at all times.
- Make accurate assessment and interpretation of all requests for patient procedures.
- Possess the ability to lift and transfer patients and equipment necessary for obtaining images.
- Function well under stressful circumstances.
- Make rapid and sound decisions.
- Possess excellent communication skills.
- Possess solid critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Instruct others in their area of expertise.
- Evaluate patients to obtain a relevant history.
- Monitor a patient's status and recognize when additional intervention is necessary.
- Inject contrast media and/or other authorized substances.
- Function as a mediator between departments concerning a patient's procedure as necessary.
- Reassure a patient that their health-care needs are being met.
- Practice within the Standards of Practice of the authorized regulatory body and follow the best practices of the profession.
- Understand and follow evidence-based practice doctrine.
- Promote a healthy work culture.
- Foster healthy relationships within the health-care setting.
- Understand the structure and function of the health care system.
- Conduct administrative tasks as required by the employer.
Medical radiation technologists work with little or no direct supervision, are fully accountable for their actions and must practice within the bounds of knowledge, good judgement, acquired skills, and the environment in which they practice.
In ensuring optimal patient care, MRTs are held accountable through their professional and/or regulatory body via the following:
- Certification process
- Code of ethics
- Standards of conduct
- Relevant legislation
- Current issues of Canadian health care system
- Job evaluations
- Evidence of continuing, professional development
- Maintenance and enhancement of clinical skills
- Association professional practices guidelines
- Association position statements
- Provincial medical radiation technologists' association by-laws and guidelines.
The ultimate responsibility of each and every medical radiation technologist is to the welfare of the patient.
All MRTs also have a responsibility to be an exemplary professional, that is, they must:
- Possess a sound understanding of anatomical positioning and physiology principles;
- Ensure the appropriate operation of equipment;
- Perform a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures with minimum supervision, independent judgement, ingenuity and initiative for the diagnosis and treatment of disease in accordance with provincial Standards of Practice, the CAMRT Code of Ethics and in compliance with provincial regulations;
- Remain current in terms of their clinical practice, relevant legislation, changing procedures and protocols, and technological advances within their profession;
- Instruct fellow colleagues and students, as required.
Some MRTs participate in the management of the department and may be required to:
- Supervise technologists and ancillary personnel assigned within specific areas, procedure rooms or satellites of the department;
- Recommend the scheduling of personnel, repairs, supply of necessary materials and work progress within those areas of designated responsibility;
- Enforce department procedures and protocol;
- Supervise and assume responsibility for the efficient operation of the department and for the accurate execution of diagnostic procedures and treatment plans;
- Participate in choosing imaging and auxiliary equipment;
- Assist in the development of protection protocols and safety policies;
- Ensure that all medical radiation technologists under their supervision are adequately trained and adhere to the provincial standards of practice and the CAMRT Code of Ethics.
All MRTs are highly skilled and trained allied health professionals who also have responsibilities as patient advocates, educators within and external to the profession, and in upholding the standards of practice of their profession. This may be done through involvement in the provincial and national professional associations, participation on committees in the workplace, or through influencing health care and other policies at the local, provincial and national government levels.
MRTs must possess and demonstrate all of the competencies described in the preceding body of this document and must demonstrate high proficiency and knowledge as it pertains to their area of practice, whether it be one or more of the following disciplines: radiological technology, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine or magnetic resonance.
Radiological technologists produce diagnostic radiographs or carry out diagnostic procedures either alone or in collaboration with a radiologist or other physician. Radiological technologists evaluate the diagnostic quality of the images and take corrective measures as required. They have expert knowledge in radiation safety and apply these principles in the protection of the patient, attending family, themselves and all other personnel.
Radiological technologists are employed in hospitals, clinics, technical colleges and universities and perform complex procedures producing high quality images. Patients may be received in the imaging department, encountered at the bedside, the emergency department, the operating room, or the morgue. The work of radiological technologists may involve general radiography, CT, mammography, lithotripsy, angiographic and interventional studies, angio-cardiography procedures, and medical research. Other responsibilities include catheter placement, veni-punctures, patient care and other duties as requested or assigned by the attending radiologist, responsible physician or employer.
Radiation therapists plan and apply ionizing radiation to the patient in accordance with the prescription and instructions from the radiation oncologist or radiation physicist. They provide specific care to patients during treatment and educate patients regarding procedures as well as how to deal with radiation reactions. In accordance with the prescription and instructions of a radiation oncologist, they produce an external beam treatment plan for each patient, with alternatives if necessary, either by the use of a treatment planning computer or isodose charts.
Radiation therapists must observe radiation safety measures for patients, personnel and visitors.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists perform a variety of technical procedures that utilize radionuclides for diagnosing and treating diseases. These radiopharmaceuticals are most commonly administered by injection but may also be dispensed either orally or by inhalation. Physiological processes then dictate the localization of these agents in specific organs or tissues.
Radiopharmaceuticals emit gamma rays that can be detected externally by special types of cameras. These cameras work in conjunction with computer systems to convert the gamma rays into images and information about the area of the body being examined.
The nuclear medicine technologist is then responsible for using the computer to process the data and enhance images. Many practitioners are also required to provide diagnostic data after analyzing biological specimens in the laboratory. Technologists work collaboratively with doctors, patients and other members of the health care team.
Magnetic Resonance Technologist
Magnetic resonance technologists (MR technologists) produce high quality diagnostic images utilizing a strong magnetic field. MR technologists evaluate the diagnostic quality of these images and take corrective measures as required. They have expert knowledge regarding magnetic field safety and apply these principles in the protection of their patients, themselves, other hospital personnel and the general public. Through the use of high level communication skills, the MR technologist is able to provide coping skills for anxious patients, and ensure patients are able to cooperate throughout the MR procedure.
MR technologists apply their knowledge of MR physics to obtain various pulse sequence data sets. The MR technologist works in collaboration with the radiologist and/or MR physicist to develop new protocols and make full use of sophisticated software.
Under minimal supervision, the MR technologist is responsible for the operation of the magnet and its ancillary equipment. Pharmaceuticals are used to enhance MR images and MR technologists are educated on dosage, injecting the contrast and procedures to use in case of reaction. In some Canadian provinces, MR technologists are regulated in veni-puncture as assigned by the radiologist.
ADVANCED PRACTICE AND EMERGING ROLES
In conclusion, medical radiation technologists must maintain their skills, knowledge, attitude and judgement at a high level, and always endeavour to improve the profession to meet the many technological and procedural advances and challenges of the future. The following are areas for potential future expansion and increased prevalence in the field of medical radiation technology:
- Medical research / clinical trials
- Promotion of healthy lifestyles
- PACS (Picture Archival and Communication System) administration
- Digitalization of x-ray images
- 3D imaging
- CT / PET imaging
- Bone densitometry
- Synchrotron radiation
- Fusion imaging
- Molecular imaging.