ASRT: Radiologic tech program enrollment holds steady

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There has been little annual change in the enrollment numbers for radiologic technology programs as the number of first-year students in 2011 was relatively steady compared with 2010, according to the Enrollment Snapshot of Radiography, Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine Technology Programs conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT).

More than 1,000 directors of radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs listed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists received surveys in September. A total of 552 participants responded, for an overall response rate of 55 percent.

For 2011, an estimated 16,454 radiography students, 1,204 radiation therapy students and 1,175 nuclear medicine technology students enrolled in educational programs, according to the survey results. This marked a 3.2 percent enrollment increase for radiography programs, a 2.3 percent enrollment decrease for nuclear medicine technology programs and a 1.8 percent decrease for radiation therapy programs compared with 2010.

The report also demonstrated there was much interest from students in radiologic technology programs as 16,011 qualified students had to be turned away because of limited enrollment or program capacity. Fifty-four percent of radiography programs and 48 percent of radiation therapy programs reported full enrollment. Nuclear medicine lagged somewhat behind, however, as 18 percent of those programs reported being at full capacity.

About 10 percent of radiography program directors indicated that they plan to decrease enrollment numbers, while 4 percent reported they plan to admit additional students. Eight percent of radiation therapy program directors plan to decrease enrollment numbers, compared with 10 percent who plan to increase student enrollment.

According to survey results, about 81 percent of radiography students and 82 percent of radiation therapy students were able to obtain employment in their respective disciplines within six months of graduating in 2010. Only 58 percent of nuclear medicine technology students were able to get jobs, down from 71 percent last year.

In addition to questions about enrollment, program directors were asked about radiation safety education. The results revealed that more than 65 percent of programs surveyed teach safety content as a stand-alone course. And, in more than 94 percent of cases, radiation safety is taught by a radiologic technologist.

“Similar to 2010, radiologic technology programs appear to be responding to the uncertainty in the healthcare marketplace by limiting enrollment numbers,” said Myke Kudlas, MEd, RT, ASRT’s chief academic officer. “As a result, educational programs and the [radiologic technology] job market continue to be competitive.”