Programmes: BSc Medical Imaging Technology, BSc Radiography, MSc Medical Imaging Technology
Best Institutes: AIIMS, New Delhi; CMC, Vellore; PGI Chandigarh; Apollo Institute of Hospital Management & Allied Health Sciences; Manipal University
Job Profiles: Imaging, X-Ray Technicians, Scientific Assistants, Clinic Assistants, Entrepreneurs
Vikash Ranjan’s day at work usually begins by going through the CT scans and MRIs of patients. He studies them and makes detailed observations. Vikash is responsible for highlighting changes undergone by cancer patients, before and after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. A medical imaging technologist by profession, Vikash also carries out research in CT scans and MRI domains, and works as a scientific assistant at the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital. Hence, keeping himself abreast of new developments in his functional domain is a must.
|“Compared to other allied medical sciences, there is immense shortage of professionals in MIT and there is a huge demand for them”
Scientific Assist., Tata Memorial Research Hospital
After Class 12 in the science stream Vikash pursued a BSc in Medical Imaging Technology (MIT) and worked in the MRI, CT scan and Radiography units of various hospitals over the last few years. What prompted him to take up this course? “I weighed various options and realised that compared to other allied medical sciences there’s an immense shortage of professionals in Medical Imaging Technology. Doctors are completely dependent on imaging specialists to carry out their diagnosis and there’s a huge demand,” says Vikash. “The pay is decent too,” he adds.
Scope of the field
MIT is the use of X-ray, Fluoroscopy, Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, Angiography and PET technologies to diagnose diseases. By extending human vision into the very nature of diseases, medical imaging enables a more powerful generation of diagnosis and intervention. “Graduates of Medical Imaging Technology have a wide range of career opportunities in hospitals/clinics (Patient care), corporate houses, software development team (for medical imaging systems), teaching and research,” says Sushil Yadav, Assistant Professor & In-charge, Department of MIT, Manipal University. There are concerns about the exposure to radiation but this is closely monitored and checked from time-to-time.
What professionals do
A radiographer or a medical imaging technologist is an individual who uses technology to view a non-uniformly composed material such as the human body. The earliest discovery among the imaging technologies was the X-ray, which was discovered by Roentgen in 1895. In the past 30 years, the field has seen accelerated growth in technology with the dawn of interventional radiology and nuclear medicine and the introduction of cross-sectional imaging. So how can one become a radiographer?
At the UG level one can pursue a BSc degree in MIT or Radiography. The minimum eligibility for a degree is Class 10+2 with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry with minimum aggregate varying from 40% to 60%. One-year certificate course and two-year diploma course are also popular to gain entry into the field of radiography. A degree course would offer better chances for growth than a certificate or diploma course. Most practitioners are BSc degree holders. However, those who aim to research and work for corporate houses pursue higher education. “The MIT field is constantly growing. So, be prepared to your knowledge with constant changes and advancements in this field,” says Winniecia Dhakar, who is waiting for her final year results of MSc in MIT. She plans to pursue a PhD in MIT.
| “Graduates of Medical Imaging Technology have a wide range of options in hospitals, clinics, corporate houses, software development & research”
Assistant Professor, Dept of MIT, Manipal University
A BSc in MIT covers subjects like anatomy, physiology, radiation physics, imaging physics and radiographic positioning, pharmacology, microbiology, medicine, orthopaedics, ENT, radiographic special procedures and new imaging modalities and recent advances spread across three years. The MSc programme teaches radiographic techniques of X-ray, MRI and ultrasonography in advanced forms along with papers on the principles of radiographic exposure, nuclear medicine imaging techniques, bio statistics and radiation evaluation & protection in diagnostic radiology. However, very few institutions offer a full-fledged MIT course in India. “Of the few which actually offer, the infrastructure facilities are not up to the mark. The course requires a more practical approach and intensive training. At the moment it is too theoretical to garner interest,” adds Vikash.
Radiographers working in government hospitals can earn somewhere between Rs. 8,000-15,000 per month. After two to three years of practice, the remuneration can go up to Rs. 30000-40000 per month. Those with a diploma or certificates can start as assistants earning Rs. 3,000 to 5,000 per month. Private hospitals and clinics offer more lucrative pay packages to radiographers. “I was always interested in the technical side of diagnosis, and medical imaging technology was something that caught my interest. After doing a BSc in the subject, I started working for a private hospital as an X-ray technician. Taking out a good X-ray requires skill,” explains Madhav Reddy, a medical imaging technician with a private diagnostic centre in Hyderabad.
Research and teaching
“A Master’s or a PhD is essential for those who want to engage in major research in the arena or take up academic jobs. Research is also common in corporate houses and is essential for those who intend to move abroad,” adds Vikash. There is a demand for lecturers and they are paid as per government norms; typically, you can expect Rs. 25,000 and other allowances. In the corporate houses, the salaries in R&d division would vary depending on the company, your area of expertise and work experience.
|INFERRING IMAGES: A student of MIT is taught to go through images generated by various technologies and carry out inferences
According to Frost & Sullivan, Healthcare Practice, Economic Research and Analytics group, the Indian medical devices and equipment industry was estimated at $1.82 billion in 2007. The health imaging market contributed approximately 50 percent and at present, it stands at around $700 million. The imaging market is dominated by MNCs like GE Healthcare, Siemens Medical Solutions, L&T Medical, Trivitron, Toshiba Medical System, BPL India, Esaote India and Sonosite. “Medical Imaging offers a career in selling and servicing of medical equipment and enhancing customer satisfaction. On an average, Siemens Healthcare takes in about 20 MIT Graduates from across the country annually and a few postgraduates for R&D or clinical collaborations team,” says D Ragavan, Sector Cluster Lead-South Asia, Siemens Healthcare.
New developments in the field
Medical imaging is increasing in specificity and moving towards optimum precision. It aims to display images and scans in three and four dimensions. This remarkable progress in the field can be mainly attributed to advances in electronics and computing and this growth is expected to be a continuous process. However, most of the research that fuelled this growth has been conducted in the West. In India, government bodies or even the ever-growing venture capitalist firms have yet to open their eyes to the benefits of investing in such research.
Is it a good career option?
“Radiographers are in demand, in India and globally. Healthcare services are growing, especially in our country,” says Professor Yadav. Medical Imaging Technology professionals can undertake most investigations but usually choose their niche areas. Owing to fixed working hours, it’s a job meant for all, irrespective of gender.
|Medical Imaging Technologies used by radiographers
- X-Ray: Look through tissues to examine bones, cavities and foreign objects
- Fluoroscopy: Imaging the digestive system, providing real-time image
- Computed Tomography Scan (CT Scan): Provide cross-sectional views (slices) of the body
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Build a 2-D or 3-D map of different tissue types
- Ultrasound: Check circulation, largely used in obstetrics and gynaecology
- Angiography: Used to investigate blood vessels
- Mammography: Includes X-ray examination of breast and soft tissues
|Radiologist vs Radiographer
|Radiology is a branch of medicine and radiologists are qualified doctors who specialise in radiology i.e., MRI, CT scans, radiographs, nuclear medicine scans, mammograms and sonograms. “A radiologist who is trained in supervising and interpreting radiology examinations will analyse images and send his or her report to the patient’s doctor. A radiologist is a doctor, while a radiographer is a technician. Typically, MD (Radiology) is a two-year specialisation post an MBBS degree,” explains, Dr. Rajesh Uppal, a Radiologist, who runs his own diagnostic clinic in New Delhi. Hence, radiologists need the assistance of a radiographer to carry out various imaging and scans.