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Health Care Jobs Grow; Not For Radiographers

September 9, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Remember that horrible August jobs report? The one that said the economy had added no new jobs during the month? There was at least one bright spot: health care employment rose by 30,000 in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bureau’s monthly report added:

Ambulatory health care services and hospitals added 10,000 and 8,000 jobs, respectively. Over the past 12 months, health care employment has grown by 306,000.

You may not have heard many choruses of “Happy Days Are Here Again” in radiology departments, however. A different August report, this one presenting the results of an annual survey from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), announced that the vacancy rate (indicating the number of jobs open)  for radiographers had decreased for the eighth consecutive year, to 2 percent.

In 2003, the first year of the survey, it was 10.3 percent. Last year, it was 2.1.

HealthImaging.com quoted Myke J. Kudlas, chief academic officer for the ASRT, as saying:

The steady decline in vacancy rates is a strong indicator that the job market for radiologic technologists continues to be slow. The tight market also can be seen in the vacancy rates for other medical imaging disciplines.

But hasn’t there been a big imaging boom over the past decade or two? What’s going on here?

Apparently, it’s a shift toward advanced imaging. While the average number of full-time radiographers per imaging facility decreased from 10.6 in 2010 to 9.3 in 2011, the average number of full-time technologists working in CT, MRI, mammography, nuclear medicine, and sonography all increased, albeit slightly.

The survey, sent to radiology department managers, also indicated some other shifts: toward PACS (85.3 percent of the departments used it), speech recognition software (40.1 percent), and digital rather than film mammography (84.2 percent).

Interestingly, 82.6 percent of the managers reported using computer-aided detection for second reading of mammograms, though a recent study found that CAD didn’t help and only increased the rate of false positives.

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Related seminar: The Business of Radiology

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