Study: New MR tech specialists needed

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After three decades of growth in procedure volume and continued increases in the depth and diversity of applications, three specialty areas for MR technologists have emerged, according to a study published in the July/August issue of Radiologic Technology.

To assess the need for MR tech specialists, Michael L. Grey, PhD, reviewed 78 task statements included in an American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) MR practice analysis questionnaire administered to a random sample of 1,000 registered MR technologists.

ARRT requires a practice analysis study every five to 10 years to inform modifications in existing technologist exams and assess the need for advanced specialty exams, according to Grey.

Grey referred to several studies that confirmed the growth of MR units and procedures performed, noting significant increases in both metrics in the last decade.

Of the 1,000 MR techs who received the survey, 582 completed it. Grey reported that nearly 40 percent of techs were employed at outpatient, nonhospital imaging facilities, with another 30 percent located in community hospitals.

Grey analyzed 78 tasks to assess the type and frequency of procedures performed by MR techs and reported that “14 factors were identified of which four were meaningful, accounting for 47.86 percent of the total variance.” These were:

1.       Routine imaging non-central nervous system (CNS);
2.       Advanced imaging;
3.       Routine imaging with CNS;
4.       Musculoskeletal and spine imaging.

The routine non-CNS factors related to tasks performed within the head and neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis. Advanced imaging tasks included MRA/MR venography, diffusion, perfusion, spectroscopy and functional MRI. Meanwhile, the CNS group included tasks such as routine brain, vascular head and neck, cervical, thoracic and lumbrosacral spine imaging. The musculoskeletal group included cervical, thoracic and lumbrosacral tasks as well as tasks associated with imaging of the extremities and joints.

“Results suggest advanced education and additional national certification examinations may be necessary to address the emerging specialty areas indicated,” concluded Grey, adding, “As the applications for MR continue to expand, formal educational and training programs will be needed to meet the demands of the imaging community.”