One of the greatest dilemmas facing medical imaging departments today is the worsening personnel crisis in the radiologic technologist (RT) workforce. As the volume and complexity of medical imaging studies continues to increase, an unprecedented imbalance exists between RT supply and demand. A number of etiologic factors have been postulated to contribute to this RT shortage including decreasing morale, perceived inadequacies in compensation, decreasing number of training programs, and limitations in the career ladder. Previous studies have cited improved technologist productivity as imaging departments successfully transition from film-based to filmless operation. This study was undertaken to address the impact of digital technologies (information systems, PACS, digital radiography) on technologist productivity, in an attempt to determine whether these technologies can be used to positively affect the existing RT workforce imbalance. A total of 112 facilities participated in this nationwide study, with representation of imaging providers that paralleled the demographic profile of the marketplace as a whole. Survey results indicate the existing RT staffing shortage is greatest within academic and rural-based hospitals and is most severe in the area of general radiography, which accounts for 65-70% of imaging department volumes. For general radiography alone, respondents report an average shortage of 2 RT full-time equivalents (FTE's) per institution, when comparing the number of budgeted RT FTE's versus the actual number of RT FTE's. Preliminary results indicate that at this time, RT staffing shortages are not affected by the presence or absence of digital information technologies. Additional research is planned through a five-year longitudinal data collection, to better delineate the complex relationship that exists between implementation of digital technologies and RT staffing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Computer Science Applications