Most radiography programs fall in either of two categories. There are the two-year associate degree programs and the four-year bachelor’s degree programs. There are also one-year programs where students can become what is known as a limited radiographer or LMRT.
Regardless of what program you decide to go to, one thing remains the same: X-RAY SCHOOL IS HARD!
Ok, there will always be those who breeze through school, but for the rest of us, becoming an x-ray tech will most likely be the hardest thing you will ever do.
Since we here at RadTechBootCamp are all about the students, we wanted to share a few tips that should help you increase your chances of CRUSHING RADIOGRAPHY SCHOOL!!
I remember when I first decided to go to x-ray tech school, I really had no idea what to expect. I figured we would have to learn about bones and how the equipment worked, but I figured how hard could it really be? Boy, was I wrong! It was not until the first day of class when I finally realized that I had severely underestimated the degree of work that I would have to do in order to not only pass my classes but also the Radiography Registry Exam.
- Learn every bone in the body and its bony landmarks (that’s 206 bones).
- The components of the x-ray tube
- How the x-ray circuit works
- Radiation protection
- Radiation biology
- Math, math, and more math
- Digital radiography
- Fluoroscopy (tube, table, and monitor)
- How to position the patient for their exams (remember, 206 bones)
- Laws and ethics related to healthcare
- Drugs and their interactions
- Patients’ vital signs
- X-ray image critique
- and tons more
If this does not scare the bejesus out of you, then please continue reading.
Given the long list above, one needs to realize that becoming a radiography student will mean that for a period of time that you are going to have to have a significant lifestyle change.
Let me just be honest here. If you think you will be able to be a full-time radiography student while staying up late and partying 4 out of 7 nights a week, you are seriously mistaken.
This is medical school y'all! Ok, so it may not be MEDICAL SCHOOL, but for all intents and purposes, you are in a medical type school. This means that you are going to have to learn to say no to a lot of things.
- Watching Netflix until 3 am every night
- Partying (especially on weeknights).
- A social life
- Free time
- Video games
- Spending all day watching sports
- Did I mention partying
- Working over 20 hours a week
- Hanging out with friends
- and just about everything else you enjoyed doing before school
Yes, to CRUSH x-ray tech school you are going to have to be 100% focused on school. Now there will be some downtime here and there, but for the most part, you will be either reading, studying, or dreaming about x-ray.
Given the degree of information you are going to have to learn while in radiography school, implementing a good study habit can make the difference between becoming an x-ray tech or being an x-ray tech school drop out.
Again, if you think you will just be able to flip through a few flashcards before a test, you are mistaken. Yeah, that might help you pass a few tests but, eventually, this will catch up to you and it will not be good!
A study habit can be anything from highlighting your notes to creating flashcards to finding a helpful website like quizlet or (shameless plug alert) radtechbootcamp.com. When I was in x-ray tech school, I was the flashcard king! I had stacks upon stacks of those wonderful white gems. I would take my stacks of flashcards everywhere, and whenever I had more than a few minutes of downtime, I would test myself over and over until I knew all the material forwards and backward.
Another excellent study habit is to get together with a group of classmates. This was always super helpful for me since often one of my classmates would have a good tip on how to remember a concept.
A final study habit tip is to befriend the smartest person in the class. Back in the day, they used to call this a study buddy but these days we just call it a study partner. Having a person like this is super helpful since they are more inclined to reply to your text message or Facebook message at 1:00 am the night before finals.
I talked about this in the “Steps to Crushing The ARRT® Exam” blog, but it is worth mentioning again.
If you eat sh%*$y food, then you are not going to function at 100%!
This is not my opinion, there is HARD evidence to support the crap in crap out hypothesis. When you eat foods that have been fried, heavily processed, or contain copious amounts of sugar, you not only deplete your body of nutrients but you also cause your brain to become inflamed. When your brain becomes inflamed, it becomes significantly harder to focus and memorize material.
The x-ray tech school I attended had a Taco Bell seriously right next to it. It was all I could do not to go there every stinking day (Taco Bell, HELLO! ). The few times I did go there for lunch, I would pay the price, total brain fog.
Here is a link on foods that help your brain – https://draxe.com/15-brain-foods-to-boost-focus-and-memory/
On a side note, consistent exercise is SUPER good for both your brain and memory.
Here is a link explaining this in more depth. – http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110
I saved the best tip for last.
Out of all the tips mentioned, if you are not passionate about helping people, then you will not make it through x-ray school, guaranteed.
To be completely honest, there are a ton more ways to make a better living than becoming an X-ray tech. BUT, there are few jobs as rewarding and as downright awesome as being an X-ray tech. What other career do you start your day helping surgeons operate in the OR, then go to the department of fluoro, and then finish out the day in the ED? Pretty much none.
Besides this, we get to help save people’s lives every day!
Oh, you don’t think so? Try diagnosing pneumothorax without a chest x-ray or doing an open reduction (ORIF) surgical case without a C-Arm. Even if you work in a doctor's office or do mobile radiography, you are still a fundamental step in proving what is known as continuity of care. If that does not get your passion juices flowing, then I do not think anything will!
When the going gets tough, and it will, passion for our profession will be the only thing that is going to get you to write that 10-page paper and show up to clinicals after a bad day. X-ray tech school and all the drama associated with it is just too hard. You have to have something more than just wanting a “good job.” If you are not passionate about helping people, then I strongly suggest you think of another career path.
To sum up, radiography school is going to kick your butt so prepare to have your life changed, find some good study habits, start eating healthy, and get passionate!