Sonal Satelkar, Business Head of Kohinoor College of Paramedical Sciences, elaborates on the growing opportunities for radiographers and radiologists within the diagnostic imaging sector
Human body, as we all know is made up of complex organs and is prone to various kinds of diseases. Radiology is a science for diagnosing diseases within the human body which can be done with the help of imaging techniques such as X- ray, Computed Tomography (CT Scan), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Sonography, Mamography etc. Radiographic equipment uses electromagnetic radiation to view the internal structure of an opaque object such as a human body and makes an image of the same.
Radiography science helps provide the right treatment to patients. It is very critical to get a correct and most accurate diagnosis or else the life of a person can be at stake. A radiology technologist will make an image of a particular organ or a part of the body with the help of radiographic equipment such as an X-ray or a CT scan. This image will be then provided by a clinical specialist at whose instructions the image was taken. This clinical specialist will then prescribe a treatment for the cure of diseases or irregularities if any.
In the medical profession, there are two categories of professionals who deal with radiography science. One category is that of medical doctors who have done their post graduation in the field of radiology. They are professionally qualified to certify the reports that are generated by radiographic equipments such as a Sonography Machine, a CT scan machine, etc. On the other hand there are radiology technicians or technologists. These are the people who assist a radiologist in performing his duties as a doctor. The technician is trained to operate the radiography equipments and does the entire job of taking the image of patients. Radiology technicians are trained to use advanced radiographic equipment such as CT scan, MRI along with basic X-ray equipment for creating images of a patient’s internal anatomy to diagnose injury or disease. In the early days, all radiography jobs were undertaken and done by doctors themselves. But over the period as technology advanced and as super speciality started playing a vital role in medical science, a need emerged to have this category of technicians or technologists to do certain jobs and assist busy doctors. In today’s era, doctors completely rely upon radiology technicians for the reports. A good technician is in great demand and therefore there is a huge demand such professionals within the diagnostic industry.
With research, the science of radiography and the technology ulitised in this field is advancing rapidly. Radiography technicians are in great demand as there are not too many qualified persons in this field. These technicians get jobs in hospitals, nursing home, diagnostic centres, equipment manufacturing companies and research organisations. They start as assistant technicians and grow up to the level of centre managers. There are institutions who offer B Sc degrees or advanced diplomas or diplomas in the medical imaging field. A good syllabus supplemented with an observership/ internship in a good hospital or diagnostic centre, helps individuals to become a good technician.
The diagnostic industry is making a mark within thehealthcare sector and radiology players per day are leaving no stones unturned to acquire the number one position . India has around a lakh of diagnostic centres. Out of these, around 30 per cent centres are radiology and imaging centres. It is said that the diagnostic industry in India is set to grow at a 20 per cent CAGR. Most of these centres are backed by sophisticated technologies and hence there is a huge demand for manpower that has hands on experience in handling these technologies.
According to the findings of Public Health Foundation of India there is a total skill gap of 97 per cent across the healthcare sector, the largest being in radiography and imaging segment. It is estimated that the current requirement for allied healthcare professionals (AHP) in India is nearly 6.5 million as against a supply of less than 3,00,000. National Skill Development Corporation, estimates that by 2018 the healthcare technician demand-supply gap in India will be 445,000 (which is around 84 percent of the shortfall). In India there are around 270 medical colleges and the number of PG seats in medical colleges for radiology is approximately 800. Radiology is a stream amongst the top four most sought for streams for specialisation amongst medical students. The other three are anesthesia, dermatology and ophthalmology.
With private entities entering the healthcare market, specifically in the arena of diagnostic, there is a dire need of manpower in this segment. With the number of hospital beds increasing, the acute shortage of manpower is hitting the delivery chain at hospitals. Employment opportunities for radiology technicians are good within India and abroad. There is a constant need for these technicians in diagnostic centres, super-speciality hospitals, clinical labs, MRI centres as well as nursing homes. In India, radiology technicians can work in private and government sector both. In India, average starting salary of a radiology technician is Rs 7,000- per month upto Rs 50,000- per month. In UK, average salary for radiology technician is around £17,000 per year.
Medical profession has always been considered as a noble profession. There cannot be a better deed than saving some one’s life. Radiology plays a very critical role in this process. Radiography science is progressing and creating ample opportunities for careers. There is no dearth of employment in this field as jobs in this sector are increasing.