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A computed tomography (CT) scan technician works directly with patients to explain and orient their bodies for a radiology imaging test. CT scans generate a specialized X-ray of bones and tissue through cross-sectional images; these images help doctors understand patient ailments and the best course of treatment. This technician position usually requires long hours of positioning multiple patients on a testing bed while standing and running the scan machine.
A CT scan technician differs from a technologist since the technician normally has an associate's degree obtained from a trade school or community college. In contrast, a technologist must have a bachelor's degree that stresses both practical machine usage and managerial processes, such as supervising a laboratory setting. Technicians do not normally make any management decisions since they are constantly busy with patient care.
One main duty of the CT scan technician is explaining the imaging procedure to incoming patients. Some patients may be wary of X-ray machines and their affect on the human body. The technician should explain the purpose of the test and cover any questions or concerns that the patient may have before any imaging processes begin. As a result, the patient will be more comfortable orienting his or her body on the test bed for the best CT image.
Another key duty for the CT scan technician is helping the patient move into the needed scan position. The required body part must be directly under the scanning mechanism, as well as at the correct angle, for the best image resolution. Technicians help the patient find a comfortable position so that he or she can remain perfectly still during the scanning process.
The CT scan technician is the main operator of the CT machine. After positioning the patient, the technician must run the machine in an efficient manner to prevent physical strain to the person lying still. A machine that is not fully prepared before the patient is positioned can make the scanning process long and arduous; poorly prepared technicians can cause unhappy patient visits that may reflect negatively on the medical group as a whole.
CT scanning machines are large, expensive medical devices; the CT scan technician must be fully trained to operate and adjust the tool as needed during the work day. In fact, the technician should be able to apply simple troubleshooting techniques to the machine if it malfunctions during a patient visit. The ability to quickly ascertain an improperly turned knob or switch will help technicians have a long and successful career.