The number of students entering radiography educational programs decreased in 2012, according to the latest ASRT Enrollment Snapshot of Radiography, Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine Technology Programs.
Study results show that an estimated 15,675 radiography students entered programs in 2012 compared to 16,454 in 2011, representing a 4.7 percent decrease. However, the number of students enrolling in radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs rose. The ASRT study shows 1,403 students enrolled in radiation therapy programs in 2012, a 16.5 percent increase from the 1,204 who enrolled the previous year. In addition, the number of students entering nuclear medicine programs jumped from 1,175 in 2011 to 1,407 in 2012, a 19.7 percent increase.
Even with variability in enrollment numbers, the radiologic technology profession continues to attract interest. According to the survey, radiography program directors reported turning away 16,323 qualified students in 2012. Radiation therapy programs turned away 836 students and nuclear medicine programs passed on 232 students.
"According to the study results, future enrollment numbers will depend on the discipline," said ASRT Director of Research John Culbertson. "For example, 89 percent of radiography program directors said they'll likely keep entering class enrollment numbers the same in the coming years, but 19 percent of radiation therapy programs said they'll increase enrollment numbers, and almost 18 percent of nuclear medicine program directors reported that they'll increase enrollments."
The survey also outlines the job placement rate for recent program graduates. Close to 85 percent of radiography students and 86 percent of radiation therapy students found employment in their respective disciplines within six months of graduating in 2011. However, only 57.2 percent of nuclear medicine students found employment after graduation.
"The job placement rates highlighted in this survey are comparable to what we've found in our vacancy rate data, which shows that the job market is still very tight," said Culbertson. "We'll have more up-to-date information about staffing rates when we complete our 2013 Radiology Staffing Survey later this year."
Results from the survey came from directors of radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs listed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The ASRT sent the survey by e-mail to 1,007 directors in October 2012, and 606 participants responded, resulting in a 60.2 percent return rate.
The ASRT has conducted the Enrollment Snapshot of Radiography, Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine Technology Program survey for 12 consecutive years. As a result, the new report includes a summary of longitudinal enrollment trends from 2001-2012.