Enrollment Down for Radiography Technologist Programs, Up for Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine

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Enrollment for radiography educational programs declined in 2012, while enrollment for radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs rose, according to the latest survey by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). The society has conducted the Enrollment Snapshot of Radiography, Radiation Therapy and Nuclear Medicine Technology Program survey for 12 consecutive years.

According to the study, enrollment for radiography programs in 2012 was estimated at 15,675 students, which represents a 4.7 percent decrease over last year, when enrollment was 16,454 students. Enrollment for radiation therapy was 1,403 students, a 16.5 percent increase from 1,204 last year, and enrollment for nuclear medicine programs was 1,407, a 19.7 percent increase from 1,175 in 2011.

“For radiography, the overall linear trend for total class enrollment has been declining since 2006, when estimated enrollments were at 17,323, compared to 15,675 in 2012,” said ASRT Director of Research John Culbertson, in an email response to ImagingBiz. “For radiation therapy, the overall trend is a slight linear decline since 2007 with noticeable variability of increases and decreases in enrollment from year to year. Nuclear medicine has seen a steady decline in estimated enrollment since 2006, with the exception of an increase in 2012.”

Despite decline in enrollment for radiography programs, 16,323 qualified students were turned away in 2012, according to the study. Radiation therapy programs turned down 836 students and nuclear medicine programs passed on 232 students.

“According to the study results, future enrollment numbers will depend on the discipline,” said Culbertson, in the press release. “For example, 89 percent of radiography program directors said they’ll likely keep entering class enrollment numbers the same in the coming years, but 19 percent of radiation therapy programs said they’ll increase enrollment numbers, and almost 18 percent of nuclear medicine program directors reported that they’ll increase enrollments.”

Employment rates for radiography and radiation therapy students within 6 months of graduation in 2011 were high at 85 and 86 percent, respectively. Employment rates for nuclear medicine students, however, were much lower, at 57.2 percent.

“According to the data, job placement is up slightly for radiography and radiation therapy, while nuclear medicine declined sharply from 2008 to 2010 and remained at that level in 2011,” said Culbertson, in an email response to ImagingBiz.

The study surveyed directors of radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine programs listed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, and gathered 606 responses from 1,007 survey recipients.