North Carolina is one of five states with no radiologic technologist licensure requirements, but Brenda Greenberg, RT(R)(CT), chair of the North Carolina Society of Radiologic Technologists (NCSRT) board of directors, intends to make a change.
With the help of the Tar Heel state’s legislature, advocates hope to soon introduce a licensure bill that only recently got past the drafting stage. For NCSRT officials, the bill comes down to patient safety, a concept that not all lawmakers readily grasp.
“A legislator in Raleigh once asked, ‘So you want me to license someone to push a button?’” muses Greenberg. “I replied, ‘No sir, it is all about those parameters we set before we push that button.’ In North Carolina, we license hair cutters, but if I get a bad hair cut, it is going to grow back. If I over radiate you, I can’t take that back.”
The NCSRT held its “R.T. in Raleigh” event on February 27 to educate North Carolina lawmakers about the need for consistent education and certification standards for radiologic technologists in the state. The NCSRT is currently working with Reps Verla Insko and Tom Murry to introduce a licensure bill in the current legislative session that will set consistent standards.
“In the bill we are proposing, there is a limited licensure provision that 32 other states have used,” explains Greenberg. “If you have been around for many years, and know what you are doing, you could sit for this exam and not have to do a course. AART is the credentialing body, and has a test established. By ‘limited’ it means you may work in a podiatry office because you know how to image feet. You don’t need to know the anatomy of the heart.”
Most of the larger North Carolina teaching hospitals have registered technologists on staff, a situation that Greenberg says is mostly due to reimbursement requirements. “However, if you go to specialty clinics such as chiropractic, podiatry, or even dental offices, you don’t know if that person has a consistent educational background, or any clinical competencies whatsoever,” she says. “In many places, they have secretaries taking these images.”
Greenberg has heard from the Division of Radiation Protection that most citations are happening in dental offices, a situation that seems to indicate these offices are not adhering to their own curriculum. “The people who may oppose this bill,” she says, “are the people who are not following their own guidelines for radiation safety.”
Ultimately, NCSRT officials believe that licensing will increase the chance of capturing quality images, lower costs, foster earlier diagnoses, and lead to better outcomes. As it stands now, Greenberg points out that “not all doctor’s offices require you to be registered, and that is why North Carolina wants to have licensing—because licensing is what would require radiologic technologists to be registered in the modality that they are practicing. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, or asking the state to administer another test.”
Greenberg is hopeful the bill will pass this year. A companion bill in the State Senate is being prepared for introduction, and so far lawmakers are pleased that the bill will essentially have no effect on the budget of North Carolina.