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Survey Shows Enrollment Gains, Losses

Jan 17, 2017

Directors of radiologic technology educational programs report that the number of students enrolling in radiography and nuclear medicine programs increased slightly in 2016, while radiation therapy programs saw a decline.

Entering-class enrollments, student accommodation availability and future enrollment levels are among the findings in the Enrollment Snapshot of Radiography, Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine Technology Programs 2016 conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

Survey results showed an average of 21.1 students per class for radiography programs in 2016, slightly up from the average of 20.7 reported in 2015. Nuclear medicine program enrollment averaged 11.4 students per class in 2016, up from 10.5 students in 2015. Overall, there were an estimated 15,537 students enrolled in radiography programs and 1,368 students in nuclear medicine programs in 2016. 

Radiation therapy programs experienced a marked decline in enrollment for 2016. An estimated 1,185 students enrolled in programs, down from 1,572 in 2015.

According to the survey results, it appears that many program directors are continuing to limit enrollment numbers. Radiography programs that were not at full enrollment turned away an average of 23.6 qualified applicants per class; an average of 11.3 qualified students were not admitted to radiation therapy programs and an average of 3.2 nuclear medicine applicants were turned away.  

Roughly half of all program directors responding across all disciplines are not filling their classes to capacity. According to the survey, radiography programs could accommodate 6.6 additional students, radiation therapy 4.6 students and nuclear medicine 7.8 students.

“Over the last several years, our surveys continue to show that program directors are consistently turning away some students, even though they might be able to fit them in the classroom,” said ASRT Director of Research John Culbertson, M.A., M.Ed.  “We’ll continue to monitor this trend to see if it continues in the 2017 enrollment survey. We’ll also conduct a staffing survey in 2017 to see how it compares with these results.”

Results from the survey came from directors of radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs listed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. ASRT sent the survey by email to 916 program directors in October 2016, and 372 participants responded, resulting in a 40.6% response rate. The annual survey has been conducted by the ASRT since 2001.


I think we have all seen the effect of having over capacity created by a glut of students entering the field over the past 15 years. Many student graduates were unable to find work or were placed in part time or temporary positions. At the same time, the Affordable Care Act caused a contraction on hiring within the healthcare system that further exacerbated and weakened the hiring opportunities for new graduates. We have a growing educational gap between experienced technologists and inexperienced technologists. This was created by an educational system that pumped out a large amount of new graduates with little or no opportunity for employment and the failure of the registering organizations to have a policy to limit the total number of technologists employed in the field. That coupled with the fact that a quarter of the technologists now have retired or will retire in the next several years is creating the "perfect storm" in healthcare. Plenty of "experienced technologists " positions with no experienced technologists to fill them. The challenges within our field will only increase as we move forward. My point is this, we need adequate supply not over supply within our field. The entry of technologists into the field could be created by having a competitive registry exam rather than an open exam. Additionally, We need to adopt a position that we as technologists are professionals. Unfortunately, the only way to truly get to that point is to make the entry level of education required a Bachelor's Degree . I guess we could all take a lesson for the nursing profession.


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