$80,000 Grant To Train MRI Technologists

K. Patricia Bouweraerts

MRI Technologist Image

The Nevada Department of Education has awarded an $80,000 grant for Truckee Meadows Community College to develop an MRI skills certificate, which will be the first of its kind in the Silver State.

Carl D. Perkins Competitive Reserve funds will enable TMCC to hire an MRI Technology instructor who will develop curriculum for the program. The grant will cover set-up of a platform for online classes and recruitment of students to begin their studies in Fall 2016. Performance-based clinical procedures will be another component of the program.

“TMCC will be one of the first from among a small handful of U.S. colleges starting this structured education,” said Tammy Freeman, Grants Manager. “There is a big need for the online certificate program, because starting in 2016 the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists will be requiring that current radiologic technologists complete 16 hours of classes before taking the MRI exam.”

Warren Hejny, Program Coordinator of the Radiologic Technology Program at TMCC, said that of the 48 MRI programs listed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), only nine are west of Denver and none are offered in Nevada. He added that most are not provided online, making access difficult for local professionals.

Until 2016, a nationally certified technologist with an associate degree in radiology sciences may complete training on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment as part of on-the-job training programs.

Hejny said that the new certificate will allow radiologic technologists much greater access to affordable in-state tuition and quality training.

“The ARRT's requirement for formal education is to ensure that technologists are adequately prepared for the national certification examination,” Hejny said. “In 2010, 3,623 candidates took the ARRT MRI certification examination with a 77.3% passing rate. Last year (2014) only 1,466 candidates took the ARRT certification exam for the first time with only 76% of them passing.”

TMCC’s Radiologic Technology Associate Program grads have an excellent pass rate for the national certification exam that allows them to enter the field.

“Our radiography program has almost a 100% pass rate over the past 30 plus years and we hope to duplicate that with the MRI Program,” Hejny said.

MRI is relatively new technology and the need for staff is on the rise

There is a growing demand for radiologic technologists and for those trained in MRI.

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of radiologic and MRI technologists will grow 21% from 2012 to 2022, Hejny said.

MRI is the most recent development in imaging technology in the healthcare field, and helps physicians make complex diagnoses. Even though MRI images in health were available in the 1980s, it wasn't until the 1990s that MRI was employed on a regular basis, Hejny said.

“By 2002, approximately 22,000 MRI machines were used worldwide, performing more than 60 million MRI exams,” he said. “The thing about MRI is that MRI utilizes a magnetic field to produce radio frequencies which are reconstructed into images instead of ionizing radiation which is used to produce images with x-ray machines.”

TMCC’s new skills certificate comprises online classes with two in-person practicums

The MRI skills certificate includes 23 credits:

  • AMI 236: Cross-Sectional Anatomy and Pathology for Imaging Professionals
  • AMI 201: Introduction to MRI, Patient Care and Safety
  • AMI 238: Physics, Instrumentation and Imaging for MRI
  • AMI 246: MRI Procedures of the Central Nervous System
  • AMI 250: MRI Clinical Practicum I
  • AMI 248: Advanced MR Techniques and Post Processing
  • AMI 256: MRI Procedures of the Torso and Limbs
  • AMI 260: MRI Clinical Practicum II

“TMCC's online MRI Program gives students who graduate from TMCC's Radiography Program the opportunity for advanced certification in MRI without having to worry about regimented class times in order to work around their work schedule,” Hejny said. “This online MRI Program will allow our Radiography Program graduates to remain in the area while opening the door for education in MRI as well as allowing students from other radiography programs here in Nevada and across the United States to obtain that same education.”

The program stands to benefit rural Nevada and the Reno and Sparks communities.

“Having this type of program here in the Truckee Meadows community also helps meet the needs of the many hospitals and clinics that utilize MRI technology here,” Hejny said.

Freeman agreed.

“The program grew from input by the Radiologic Technology Program Advisory Board that includes representatives from area hospitals,” she said.

TMCC’s existing accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities will apply to the MRI Technology Program. For more information about the Radiologic Technology Program at TMCC, call 775-674-7657.