MRI Technician Jobs
By an allied health world contributing writer
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists are similar to x-ray technicians. Becoming specialized in performing MRI’s is an expansion of the job of an x-ray technician. MRI tech jobs utilize magnetic resonance imaging technology to capture images of both hard and soft tissues within the human body. These images produce multiple cross-sectional images to create a 3D image. This type of scanning is increasingly used due to the fact it does not involve radiation and often provided better images than traditional radiography. MRIs differ from x-rays and cat scans in that they use non-ionizing radio frequency to generate image contrast. X-rays use radiation. MRIs are most commonly used to aid physicians in identifying medical issues.
MRI technicians work with machines that produce high levels of radiation. Therefore, they must take the necessary precautions and follow proper procedures to protect patients, co-workers, and themselves. In addition to performing the actual MRI, MRI techs prepare patients for the procedure, keep their records detailed and up-to-date, and maintain equipment to ensure it is in proper working order. It is essential that MRI techs can communicate effectively with patients and doctors.
Most MRI technicians may work in a hospital or clinical setting. A few MRI tech jobs exist in university settings where experiments are performed and research is done on advancing MRI imaging. These jobs are harder to obtain and may require years of experience and schooling.
MRI tech jobs in a clinical setting or diagnostic center tend to have different responsibilities for technicians than hospital employed MRI technicians. Generally speaking both get patient histories and interview them before the procedure. A thorough description of the MRI procedure will be given by the MRI tech to the patient and any family members present with the patient. The patient is then screened by the technician for any implants or contra-indications (pacemakers, bullet wounds, aneurysm clips, etc.). Finally, the patient is ready to be prepared for the MRI.
The MRI technician will inject dyes into veins in the patient’s arms for imaging and then properly position them on the MRI table to ensure the best scan results. The actual imaging using the MRI machine is then performed. Once the images are obtained, the MRI technician reviews them to be sure they were taken correctly and evaluates the finished film for quality before taking the paperwork to the radiologist. A trained radiologist must read the exam and have an official report dictated. MRI technicians can not read the actual MRI results. Radiologists who can read the MRI have completed medical school.
In the clinical setting, MRI techs can usually expect more duties. This includes but are not limited to the following:
- Taking x-rays
- Performing Fluoroscopic procedures (video x-ray)
- Drawing blood for lab work
Typically hospitals want or have other individual employees to do these tasks, but clinics try to have MRI techs multi-task in order to save on expenses and labor costs.
Additionally, MRI technicians are responsible for making sure that the MRI machinery is in the proper working order. This is done through routine checks and regular maintenance.
Brad Neely, an MRI technician at Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute in Springfield, Missouri has been an MRI tech for almost eight years. He describes his job as follows, “I'm a glorified photographer, not of people’s outsides and exteriors but their organs and interiors.”
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