History of the Radiologist Assistant

Definition

A radiologist assistant is an advanced-level radiologic technologist who enhances patient care by extending the capacity of the radiologist in the diagnostic imaging environment. The radiologist assistant is an ARRT-certified radiographer who has completed an advanced academic program encompassing a nationally recognized radiologist assistant curriculum and a radiologist-directed clinical preceptorship.

With radiologist supervision, the radiologist assistant performs fluoroscopy and selected radiology procedures, patient assessment, patient management and initial evaluation of diagnostic images, but does not provide an official interpretation (final written report) as defined by the ACR Standard for Communication: Diagnostic Radiology.

History

1970s

The first educational programs are started for radiology physician assistants (PAs). PA education is consolidated. Specialty PA programs falter.

Early 1990s

Working with the U.S. Department of Defense, Weber State University in Ogden , Utah , begins to develop a program to educate advanced clinical practice R.T.s. The DOD eventually ended its participation in the program, but Weber State pursues the concept.

Mid 1990s

ASRT educational consensus conferences tie advanced clinical roles with education at the baccalaureate level and higher. Weber State University opens a program to educate radiology practitioner assistants, but allows a number of graduates to matriculate with only a certificate.

Nov. 1999

As shortages of radiologic technologists emerge nationwide, the ASRT notifies the ACR of its efforts to expand recruitment efforts into the profession. The ASRT asks the ACR to consider an advanced clinical role for radiologic technologists, under which the R.T. would perform some procedures traditionally provided by radiologists.

2000

The ACR forms a Task Force on Work Force Shortages and asks the ASRT to participate. The ACR focuses on physician recruitment, while the ASRT addresses technologist recruitment and retention through the use of videotapes and Web-based information. The ACR agrees to work with the ASRT to develop an advanced clinical role for radiologic technologists.

March 2002

The radiologist assistant is defined during a consensus conference on advanced-level practice for radiologic technologists. A consensus document outlining development of the career level is prepared by representatives from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, the American College of Radiology, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, state agencies that license radiologic technologists and radiologic science educational programs.

2002-2003

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists develops the curriculum for educational programs for RAs.

January 2003

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists awards grants to four universities to develop educational programs for radiologist assistants.

May 2003

The American College of Radiology Council approves a policy statement regarding the roles and responsibilities of a radiologist assistant.

Spring 2004

In preparation for its development of a certification examination for radiologist assistants, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists conducted a role delineation survey that identified the specific activities defining the role of the radiologist assistant.

Fall 2003

Loma Linda University , Loma Linda , Calif. , opens the nation's first educational program for radiologist assistants.

2004-2005

Educational programs for radiologist assistants open at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, N.J.; Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Summer 2005

The first class of radiologist assistants graduates.

October 2005

The certification examination for radiologist assistants is offered for the first time by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

2006

Educational programs for RAs will open at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania , bringing the number of programs to seven.

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