Understanding the Role and Job of a Mammography Technician


Mammography technologists are tasked with operating a mammography unit, which produces pictures of breasts for diagnostic reasons under the supervision of a physician. Their other tasks involve explaining the process to patients, immobilizing and positioning the breast of the patient, and then observing the entire process of scanning. They must also monitor the video display of the part that is being scanned and then adjust the contrast or density to enhance the quality of the picture.

Mammography technologists are then going to evaluate and review the image or film recording plate to find out if the images meet the diagnostic requirements. Throughout the entire process, the mammography technologist will use protection devices and radiation safety measures to meet government regulations and ensure the staff and patients are safe.

Requirements for a Mammography Technologist

Most people find diagnosing health problems as a rewarding career choice, and if you’re aiming to become a mammography technician or technologist, you must first become an X-ray technician, also known as a radiologic technologist, which you can do by attending a 2-year program. You will then need additional certification and training for mammography, which is the study of breast tissue.

·        Get A Radiology Degree

You must finish an associate degree in radiology to get certified in mammography. You must take classes in physiology, anatomy, and using X-ray, as well as how you must position clients to attain X-rays of various structures and bones while using minimum radiation. It will take you about two years to complete a radiology degree. Once you have graduated from an accredited program, you must take an exam to get certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) that is licensed in your state.

·        Getting Advanced Training

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, states that mammography technologists must complete around 40 additional hours of mammography training, which must be supervised by a qualified instructor. The training will involve breast physiology and anatomy, compression of breast tissue, positioning of the client, breast implant imaging, radiation safety, and how to correctly use imaging equipment and manage its settings.

Candidates, who are qualified for this job will need to perform a minimum of 25 examinations, which must be supervised by a qualified instructor. Passing the ARRT’s mammography examination is also required.

·        The Job Description

Mammography technologists will position clients to acquire the best images of breast tissue. They will also adjust the settings based on the density of breast tissue and must concentrate on places that show an abnormal appearance. Most women are extremely nervous when they go for mammograms, which is why the technologist will need to reassure clients to get them feeling comfortable, during an uncomfortable procedure.

The job can be physically demanding at times since it requires hands-on positioning. One of the most important parts of a mammography technologist’s job is minimizing radiation exposure and getting proper images of the tissue.

·        The Salary

The annual salary taken home by radiographic technicians was $58,440 per year in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 25% of the radiographic technicians ended up making $71, 810, while the lowest 25% managed to make $47,380.

The Duties of a Mammography Technologist

To learn more about mammography technicians, we are going to look at what main duties should they perform in their role. Amongst the leading sectors for employment in the country is the health care industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that job prospects for mammography technologists will grow by nearly 30% from 2010 to 2020. A mammography technologist is an emotionally and physically demanding job, but it is also a be a hugely rewarding career financially.

·        Maintenance of Equipment

Mammography technologists work with cutting-edge medical imaging equipment, which uses radiation at lower levels, and produces detailed pictures of the breast. The equipment needs to be properly calibrated and maintained to operate efficiently.

This is the reason why mammography technologists undergo training on how to adjust and perform routine maintenance on their equipment. They will also perform tests for quality control to determine whether the equipment is properly functioning.

·        Dealing with Patients

Most women don’t enjoy acquiring a mammogram, even though it is a routine procedure. However, mammograms are commonly ordered for diagnosing a suspect mass in the breast, and that makes it an extremely stressful experience for them. Mammography technicians must also provide support and encouragement to the patient, to make them feel comfortable during the procedure.

·        Getting the Imaging

The main function of a mammography tech is to acquire diagnostic pictures of the breast. That will mean telling the patient what it is going to happen in the procedure, and then ensuring the patient is in the proper position to acquire the best pictures based on instructions given by the physician. Protocols for radiation safety must be followed strictly since mammography includes using X-rays.

·        Evaluation and Training

Mammography technologists may also need to train students when they are called upon. They may also assess the quality of the mammograph and interpret the images when consulting with the physicians. You may also be asked to help in evaluations, research, and development of new imaging techniques or equipment. Mammography technologists must continue their education so that they stay current with any developments in the field of diagnostic imaging.

Skills Taught in a Mammography Training Course

Mammography training courses offer a thorough overview based on the skills and knowledge of performing breast tissue cancer screenings. The courses can be different but they require students to have a basic understanding of X-ray and ultrasound technologies. All mammography training courses require a basic understanding of radiography, which means getting an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in radiology. Some experience with radiology will also be required with some courses.

Most mammography training courses are in different lengths, but they tend to cover topics in anatomy that are related to breasts, imaging issues, positioning, and quality control. All students will be taught patient positioning and the process of creating a complete picture of breast tissue with only low-doses of the X-ray systems.

Their training will allow them to handle screening situations with professionalism and efficiency. Students taking mammography courses will need to gain skills by hands-on clinical practices that involve:

  • Stereotactic procedures
  • Needle localizations
  • Implant imaging
  • Ductography
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Breast MRI


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