Radiology nursing, also known as radiologic nursing, is a field in which nurses work with medical imaging equipment to help diagnose illnesses. As is the case with most types of nursing, the radiologic professional works with a team of health care workers to provide the best care. In most cases, this means a radiology technologist, radiology technician, a radiologist, or a cardiologist—all of whom are also trained to work with imaging technology.
How is Radiologic Nursing Different from Traditional Nursing?
Most nurses in a hospital or long-term care setting provide care to the same patients for an entire shift, as designated by their assignment for the day, week, or even longer. In this way, they are responsible for monitoring patient levels and making assessments based on their knowledge.
Radiologic nurses are a little bit different. Because a radiology department works like a physician’s office, in that many different appointments and clients are scheduled, there is more of a focus on diagnosing and treating specific diseases, rather than the patient as a whole. Job duties include:
- Starting IVs
- Educating families and patients on procedures
- Coordinating scheduling
- Assisting with diagnostic imagining procedures (ultrasound, nuclear medicine, computed tomography, MRI, and x-rays, among others)
- Keeping patients calm and comfortable during procedures
- Caring for patients during the recovery period
- Helping the doctor/radiologist make diagnoses
Because it is such a specialized nursing field, most professionals must get certified as an RN first and a radiologic nurse second. The Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing offers more information on the field and what you can do to specialize and become certified as a radiologic nurse.
How is Radiologic Nursing Different from a Radiology Technician?
If you are interested in radiologic nursing, you may also want to consider a straight career as a radiology technician or technologist. In many cases, the education is about the same (four years—the same as a BSN), and the work is similar in that you work with imaging technology. However, unlike nursing, you are qualified to make many of the diagnoses on your own, and you run most of the machinery without needing a direct supervisor.
Nursing tends to be a better choice if you would like to keep a broader range of options. If you earn a degree as a radiology tech, you are qualified for just that: radiology. A radiologic nurse, however, has double training, both as a traditional nurse and as a radiologic specialist. If you one day decide to change fields, you will have an easier time, since you’ll have the RN degree to fall back on.
If you’re interested in either field, it’s best to talk with the nursing school advisor or even job shadow both professionals for a few days to get a better understanding of your own professional goals.