Many schools offer training in radiologic sciences, but accreditation is awarded to the individual educational programs, not to schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology is currently the only agency recognized for accreditation of educational programs in the fields of radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance and medical dosimetry. This is scheduled to change in 2015, when the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists' new standards for educational programs are fully in place.
Exploring the Field of Radiologic Sciences
The most traditional component of radiologic science, radiography is the study of x-ray creation which doctors use for diagnosis and treatment. Radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer cells and medical dosimetry concerns the measurement and dose of radiation used for cancer patients. Magnetic resonance imaging is used to create pictures of internal organs without using x-rays. These fields all require extensive study and preparation. Approximately 750 radiology programs are accredited in American colleges, universities, hospitals and technical schools. Although the JRCERT is the primary accrediting agency, programs in medical dosimetry and magnetic resonance imaging vary so greatly that other certification procedures have been put in place to accredit those specific fields.
Accrediting Radiologic Programs
The JRCERT accreditation process begins with an application to the agency and a self-analysis of the radiologic program. A site visit is completed and a team evaluates the program requesting accreditation. The JRCERT Board of Directors decides on whether or not the program is granted accreditation. If the program is accredited, ongoing consultation, assessment and analysis, peer review, program review and evaluation continue. The maximum initial accreditation award is for three years and the maximum length is eight years, with an Interim Report required after the first four years.
Changing Accreditation Rules
Effective January 1 2013, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists working with the USDEA and the CHEA launched new standards for recognizing educational programs that provide training in Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Radiation Therapy, Sonography or Magnetic Resonance Imaging. These fields are changing so rapidly that the educational preparation and requirements for degree granting institutions were totally revamped and new standards put into place. As part of this accreditation revision process, candidates seeking certification must successfully complete a professional educational program accredited by an agency acceptable to the ARRT. In 2015, the rules will become even more stringent, requiring candidates to earn an associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree from an acceptably accredited institution.
Acceptable Accredited Institutions
Under the new guidelines that are mandated for 2015, institutions that provide professional radiology training must be accredited by an agency recognized by the CHEA or the USDE. These accreditation agencies not only include the JRCERT, but also regional and national agencies that evaluate the schools using standards adopted by ARRT. For national accreditation, the accrediting agency must require specialized training in radiologic technology or allied health, have a clinical education component and utilize expert staff who have state licensing and working experience in the field of radiologic science.