Medical Assistant vs. Medical Imaging Technician: What You Need to Know

The title of “Medical Imaging Technician” is what might be called a “loaded” job title — non, not because these people are often drunk on the job but because there are many title/role overlaps in healthcare. This is especially true in medical imaging. Medical imaging technicians (MITs) use special imaging equipment to look inside the human body. The three top technologies available for this task are radiation (X-rays and CT Scans), sound waves (ultrasound) and magnetic fields (MRIs).

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While technicians can specialize in any of the equipment used for imaging, you can also have technicians with expertise in a more than one of these technologies. MITs are one such person and so are Nuclear Medicine Technicians (NMTs). Here’s what’s complicated about all this: both MITs and NMTs may be experts in using Computer Tomography (CT Scans), X-rays and PET scans but then the roles bifurcate in subtle ways — i.e., an NMT can uniquely deliver radiotherapy to a cancer patient and an MIT might be uniquely qualified to perform an MRI.

MITs, in other words, can have several different types of credentials and abilities, depending on training they’ve undergone and certifications they possess. Naturally, their pay and status is commensurate with those things just mentioned.

Here are some of the major differences between Medical Imaging Technicians and MAs:

  • Naturally, the duties of the typical MIT and the typical MA are drastically different: the MIT’s duties are equipment related while the MA’s are patient related — in other words, one is more people oriented than the other.
  • While MAs often discuss treatment plans and even diagnoses with patients, MITs, by established protocols, cannot discuss results of tests, nor give any feedback/advice about results; this can be very aggravating to some people who would prefer to talk to patients about test results.
  • There are several certifications that MITs can vie for, whereas MAs just have 2 major ones: “Certified” and “Clinical.”
  • There is a significant danger of developing cancer because of on-going exposure to radiation from X-rays, CT Scans, PET Scans, etc. for MITs; there is much less of a chance for MAs to do so, at least from radiation.
  • Each area of expertise in medical imaging requires special training; if you are an MA and you want to enter this field, it may take some time for each of these specialties.
  • Medical imaging technicians haver primarily one boss: the radiologist or medical imaging specialist in charge of the department, whereas MAs, as has already been explained, have multiple “bosses.”
  • Depending on how many certifications they possess, MITs can make significantly more money than MAs.
  • Unlike MAs, MITs are sometimes licensed (or at the very least certified), after passing exams proffered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and/or the state.
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Article Written by Rachel Dennis

Rachel Dennis works as both a professional writer and health care provider. She has been a licensed health care provider since 1998, with work experience as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. She has been writing since 1994 and has been published both on-line and in print.

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