ARRT: Exam enrollment for first-time RTs slows

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Although there has been an upward trend in radiologic technologist (RT) primary exam volume for the last eight years, the 2008 exam volume numbers are smaller than in past years and parallels reports of declining educational program enrollments, according to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Jerry B. Reid, PhD, ARRT executive director, noted that ARRT exam volume closely follows the number of program graduates, and the number of graduates goes through cycles driven by supply and demand for technologists.

"When there are more positions available than there are technologists to fill them, educational programs increase enrollment. We typically overshoot the mark to the point where there are more technologists than there are positions, and the programs reduce enrollments. These cycles have been observed for decades, but the overall trend across the years is increased volume," said Reid.

In 2008, ARRT said that nuclear medicine technology grew at a rate of 5.5 percent compared with 2007. However, this increase was lower than the preceding four years, when nuclear medicine technology volumes averaged a 17 percent increase.

Radiography has been essentially flat for two years, with 0.5 percent increases in candidate numbers. Radiation therapy volume, on the heels of a 5.3 percent drop in 2007 volume, dropped 1.9 percent in 2008.

Post-primary exam volume for first-time candidates increased for the seventh consecutive year in 2008 to 25 percent, according to ARRT. Previous increases were 15 percent for 2007, 19 percent in 2006, 14 percent in 2005, and 7 percent in 2004.

CT was a leader among the high-volume disciplines, with a 36 percent increase in 2008. Mammography grew by 22 percent, the Registry noted. CT and mammography post-primary exam numbers for previous years were not available.

ARRT's 2008 Annual Report of Examinations is available at under "Examinations," along with a more detailed Technical Appendix. In addition to reporting volume, ARRT's Annual Report of Examinations also reports scores--by exam section, percentile rank, state and comparative means for educational programs.