According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, associate's degree programs in radiography are the most commonly available, although certificates and bachelor's degrees in the field are offered as well (www.bls.gov). For this reason, two-year community colleges are the primary source for initial training in radiography. Associate programs typically aren't fully online, since this is a hands-on field. Because of this, associate's level distance learning programs are typically offered in a hybrid format that combines online and in-person classes with clinical practicum. Several four-year universities and colleges also provide bachelor's degree completion options that can be taken completely online.
Like traditional campus-based programs, online and hybrid radiography or radiologic technology programs focus on teaching students the technical knowledge needed to perform x-rays and other medical imaging procedures, as well as the skills necessary for providing effective patient care. Graduates are prepared to earn professional certification from organizations like the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and state licensure, if required.
To enter a distance learning associate's program in radiography, students must have a high school diploma or GED. Placement test scores and GPA on prior coursework are also deciding factors, as is the outcome of a criminal background check. Schools offering online bachelor's degree completion programs usually require students to have an associate's degree in the field and professional certification.
An online associate's degree in radiography incorporates many of the same components as on-campus programs, such as general education and electives. Those getting initial training through an associate's degree program typically complete online coursework coupled with in-person instruction on campus at scheduled times. In addition, clinical practicums in an approved medical facility are required.
For the online courses, students log on to a course management system that creates a virtual classroom environment. There they can get assignments, view lectures and interact with peers or instructors. Communication methods like message boards, e-mail, chat rooms and web conferencing are commonly used in online education. Online class materials are usually available any time of day.
Radiography students also take courses in subjects related to medicine, health and science, and they're introduced to concepts in patient management, radiation therapy and human anatomy. Candidates demonstrate a basic proficiency with medical terminology and clinical procedure. Typical coursework in online radiography associate's programs might include:
- Medical Imaging
- General Psychology
- Occupational Wellness
- Clinical Education
- Cross Sectional Imaging
- Radiographic Procedures
- Radiation Protection
Distance learning bachelor's degree programs in radiography provide students with comprehensive education in radiographic health and science. Distance learning bachelor's degree completion programs in radiography are often totally online because they're designed for those who already work in the field.
Online courses teach students about assessing patients, analyzing images, making observations and performing procedures. Along with general education requirements, possible courses in an online radiography bachelor's degree program include the following:
- Clinical Ethics
- Medical Imaging Problems
- Medical Law
- Positioning for Radiographic Testing
- Sectional Anatomy
- Radiation Biology
Distance learning courses in radiography can be taken for both associate's and bachelor's degree programs; however, fully online programs are more often found at the bachelor's level. Students seeking an associate's degree in radiography will likely need to take online and in-person classes since clinical practicum is oftentimes required.