National Radiologic Technology Week - An Interview with ASRT President Kristi Moore

“We admire the strength and compassion of all radiologic technologists and health care providers in these difficult times. And we thank them for showing up, staying calm, and always putting patient care and safety first.”

Kristi Moore, President of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)

Radiologic technology has come a long way since the discovery of the x-ray by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on November 8, 1895. That discovery, hailed as a medical miracle, led to a chain of innovations that have changed the face of modern medicine: from mobile chest x-rays to CT scans to MRIs and 3D mammograms.

To celebrate all that progress and to call attention to the important role that medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals play in patient care and healthcare safety, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) hosts the annual National Radiologic Technology Week, occurring November 7-13, 2021. This is an opportunity to recognize the unseen hard work radiologic technologists perform on a daily basis.

Radiologic technology stands to benefit handily from advances in other forms of tech like AI and virtual reality. Radiologic technology is a forward-thinking profession that’s always been on the cusp of what’s possible, and it’s set to remain that way far into the future.

Read on to learn about National Radiologic Technology Week, what the current and former presidents of the ASRT think that future looks like, and how you can get involved.

Celebrate National Radiologic Technology Week 2021

Radiologic technologists are recognized for their vital work through National Radiologic Technology Week (NRWT). This week is celebrated each year during the week of November 8th, paying tribute to the discovery of the x-ray by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen on November 8, 1895.

The theme for 2021 is “Essential Together” highlighting the hard work radiologic technologists have completed as essential employees throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. NRWT is organized by the ASRT, the leading professional association for radiologic technologists.

There are several ways for radiologic technologists, employers, and interested citizens to get involved with this exciting week. Radiologic technologists can volunteer at schools or community centers to talk about the work they do, share social media posts to amplify their profession, and share with friends and family about NRTW.

Employers have a lot they can do to recognize the hard work performed by their radiologic technologists. One way is through an official proclamation. The ASRT has an official proclamation request employers and leadership can send to local and state officials for formal recognition from the government. Other ways to acknowledge radiologic technologists include issuing press releases, organizing a celebration lunch, issuing a company-wide memo highlighting the work performed, or writing personal thank you notes.

Members of the general public with interests in nuclear science can also participate in NRTW. One way to do so is by reaching out to local companies to inquire about their NRTW events and attending. Another way is by sponsoring a local lecture at a library or facilitating a radiologic technologist visiting a school to talk about their job and the importance of radiologic technologists.

Meet the Experts: ASRT President Kristi Moore & Former President Stephanie Johnston

Kristi Moore

Kristi Moore, PhD
(Interviewed in October 2021)

Dr. Kristi Moore is the president of the ASRT, where she has held positions as vice president and secretary, among many other roles. She also serves as the chair and director of the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, as well as a professor of radiologic sciences. She earned her BSHS, MS in clinical health sciences, and PhD in clinical health sciences—all from UMMC.

Dr. Moore has received a wealth of awards and honors related to radiologic technology, including Technologist of the Year from the Mississippi Society of Radiologic Technologists and the Nelson Order of Exemplary Teaching recognition from UMMC.

Stephanie Johnston

Stephanie Johnston, MSRS
(Interviewed in September 2019)

Stephanie Johnston is the former president of the ASRT. But that’s only part of her dedication to (and passion for) the radiologic technology profession. She’s a working mammographer in Wichita Falls, Texas, and when you count up all her degrees, certifications, and titles, she has as many letters after her name as in her name: 17. Stephanie Johnston, MSRS, RT(R)(M)(BD)(BS), FASRT. Try saying that three times fast.

As past president of the ASRT, she traveled across the world, sharing her passion for the profession, listening to the concerns and ideas of her fellow RTs, and keeping an eye on the future.

How Have Radiologic Technology Professionals Been Impacted By Covid-19?

ASRT President Kristi Moore shared that RTs have been on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic: “Chest x-rays and CT scans are critical imaging tools used in evaluating the respiratory complications related to coronavirus,” she said. “When patients are placed on ventilators for breathing assistance, radiologic technologists use imaging procedures so appropriate placement can be verified.”

And it’s not just radiologic technologists who have been affected, Dr. Moore emphasized; radiologist assistants, military radiologic technologists, radiation therapists, department managers, educational program faculty, and other radiologic science professionals have provided care and services to countless patients with this disease.

Above all, Dr. Moore stated that “the ASRT is proud of RTs across the country who have—like many healthcare professionals—been on the frontlines in the care and treatment of patients suffering from the Covid-19 virus.”

Additionally, the ASRT’s philanthropic branch (the ASRT Foundation) gave “more than $275,000 to a program that offered grants to medical imaging and radiation therapy personnel whose jobs had been eliminated or had faced reduced hours due to the pandemic,” Dr. Moore shared.

What Can We Expect in the Future of Radiologic Technology?

“Radiologic technology is one of healthcare’s oldest diagnostic imaging tools as well as one of the most rapidly advancing,” Johnston stated in 2019. “The technology that is yet to come will, no doubt, be more powerful, more precise, safer, faster, and smaller. I’m confident that the profession will see virtual reality, artificial intelligence, multi-disciplinary hybrid imaging, and other advances in the future.”

While technology continues to change, some things will remain the same. RTs often see patients who aren’t having their best day—patients who can be frightened, confused, or in pain. Whether an RT needs to produce a quality diagnostic image or administer targeted doses of radiation to a cancer patient, they need to do it with compassion. Johnston and Dr. Moore call this the “high tech, high touch” approach, where complex technology is employed with a gentle, caring hand.

“No matter how advanced the technology becomes, radiologic technologists will be trained and ready to provide the highest quality care,” Johnston says. “RTs are vital to every healthcare team, and while they’re masters of highly complex technology, their focus is always on patient safety and care. Regardless of what type of technology is used, the images they create will continue to help physicians make more accurate and reliable diagnoses, now and in the future.”

In 2021, Dr. Moore echoed many of Johnston’s predictions about the RT field: “Artificial intelligence, molecular imaging, and other new technologies will enhance diagnostic capabilities. In addition, I imagine we’ll increasingly see technology that focuses on decreasing radiation dose,” she said.

How Do RTs Mitigate the Risks of Working With Radiation?

This is a profession committed to the safety and care of its patients, but working with radiation means there are some unique factors to consider.

“To minimize radiation exposure for patients, RTs follow the ALARA principle: As Low As Reasonably Achievable,” Johnston stated. “We constantly look to protect our patients by using the lowest dose possible that will still create a quality diagnostic image.”

The profession is so committed to addressing concerns about public exposure to ionizing radiation from medical imaging that a consortium of key medical imaging and radiation therapy organizations came together to create Image Wisely. The group asks imaging professionals and others to make an annual pledge to ensure that the least radiation necessary to acquire a diagnostic-quality image is used for each examination.

Protection from exposure to ionizing radiation is also important for RTs, who work around it every day. But while it might have been a major cause for concern before the 1950s, radiologic technology has come a long way since then. Research from the National Cancer Institute shows no correlation between this line of work and increased risks of harmful effects. Radiologic technology is getting safer as it gets more advanced.

“All RTs keep in mind three guidelines for controlling their exposure: time, distance, and shielding,” Johnston shared in 2019. “In short, this means minimizing exposure time, maximizing distance from the radiation source, and employing shielding from radiation. RTs also wear a radiation monitoring device called a dosimeter to measure cumulative doses of radiation over time.”

Licensure and Professional Advocacy for RTs

Dr. Moore stated that while laws governing this professional field vary somewhat from state to state, “the ASRT has long been an advocate of strong licensure regulations as we believe it ensures patients that their care is provided by professionals who are educationally prepared and clinically competent.”

She added, “Through strong alliances with our affiliate societies across the country, our members often speak before state legislative committees to influence lawmakers about the importance of licensure and education for those who use ionizing radiation in medical imaging and radiation therapy. We also educate many of our members on how to become expert advocates for their profession. The ASRT is committed to legislative and regulatory advocacy and represents not just our members, but all the nearly 350,000 registered radiologic technologists across the United States.”

Advice on Becoming a Radiologic Technologist

Education is a critical part of an RT’s journey, furnishing them with safety procedures, methods of care, and an understanding of complex technology.

Dr. Moore mentioned that the opportunity to spend time with RT professionals can be invaluable in figuring out whether this field is a good fit for any individual: “When I started out, I shadowed a friend who was already a radiologic technologist and soon realized it was a great career for me,” she said. “In addition, many of my colleagues tell me they got into the profession because they once met a compassionate technologist caring for a relative or friend.”

Having the chance to work under an experienced RT can also determine which aspect of the field an RT will work in: “Radiologic technologists can choose two broad paths of study,” Johnston shared in 2019. “They can work on the medical imaging team where they perform diagnostic images to be interpreted by a radiologist to diagnose disease and injury, or they can choose the radiation oncology team where they work with a variety of physicians to treat many types of cancer. In all, there are a dozen or more areas of clinical specialization for radiologic technologists.”

So how does one choose which area to specialize in? Beyond personal interest, there are some tools to help. The ASRT’s Career Center is geared towards older students, while the ASRT’s Radcademy® is meant as a starting point for high school students.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging topics in medical technology, particularly the modernization of the medical laboratory and the network effects of both health data management and health IT. In consultation with professors, practitioners, and professional associations, his writing and research are focused on learning from those who know the subject best. For, he’s interviewed leaders and subject matter experts at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).