By Tim Ludwig, CRA, FAHRA
June 2o10–Hello once again from the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). If you’re unfamiliar with JRCERT, this committee promotes excellence in education and enhances the quality and safety of patient care through the accreditation of educational programs. JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the United States Department of Education for the accreditation of traditional and distance delivery educational programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry. Programs accredited by JRCERT must demonstrate that they are in substantial compliance with the relevant JRCERT accreditation standards.
One of the great benefits of programmatic accreditation from JRCERT is that educational programs are evaluated at every level by people who have experience in the radiologic sciences. The CEO of JRCERT, the accreditation specialists in the office, JRCERT site visitors, and the majority of the board of directors carry the ARRT distinction proudly. In fact, only the public member and the physician (radiologist or radiation oncologist) on the board—two members out of eight—are not ARRT certified.
Most members of the AHRA who read Link are engaged in some form of management in a healthcare setting and many of you have the opportunity to work with students who perform their clinical rotations in your facility. Additionally, many of you may also have direct responsibilities for students as a function of your position. Either way, students and their educational experiences are affected by decisions that you make.
Periodically there are recurring issues experienced in educational programs, of which department managers and directors should be made aware. There are currently two such issues, mainly mammography rotations and shared clinical sites, that I would like to address.
For a number of years, educators along with departmental management have debated issues related to gender-specific exams such as mammography, hysterosalpinography, etc, and educational experiences. In short, should male students be given the same opportunity to rotate through mammography as female students? I’m sure when many of us were students, male students were expected to rotate through mammography and receive a mammography competency just like female students. Program directors and radiology management considered it appropriate for all students, male and female, to perform all exams, including mammography. However, all too often, if a particular department leadership did not feel comfortable with males participating in mammography rotations, no problem: males were no longer allowed to rotate through mammography. It’s not that easy anymore.
JRCERT Standards for Accredited Programs in Radiologic Sciences require that all educational experiences be equitable. That means that if you allow females to rotate through mammography, you must allow males that same opportunity. Some departmental administrators are uncomfortable with this policy and will not allow any students access to mammography rotations. While this is an option, a better option may be to have policies and practices in place that allow all students to rotate through mammography while giving the patients the option, on an individual basis, of whether to allow a male student to participate in their procedure. In the final analysis, male and female students must be treated equitably.
The other educational issue that could affect imaging departments relates to shared clinical sites. Many departments have clinical rotation agreements established with programs that have been in place for years. One of the recent trends the JRCERT is encountering is departments being asked to share clinical rotations with other programs. Sometimes this can be accomplished without any issues; however, many times departments are asked to accept more students than they can appropriately accommodate. This can lead to many issues including students not being able to complete their competencies, students not being adequately supervised, and/or staff members being asked to give preferential treatment to certain students over others. All of these situations can have a negative affect on both the students and the technologists. If you are asked to share clinical time and space with multiple programs, make sure there are adequate human and physical resources available to provide a quality experience to all students and that there is a clear understanding among all parties regarding the needs of the students and your staff.
The JRCERT continues to strive to ensure that educational programs in the radiologic sciences are operating in a manner that will result in a quality education for tomorrow’s professionals in the radiologic sciences. The high standards that our profession demands, and that our patients deserve, can only be achieved by all of us working together. Thank you for your dedication to our profession and your efforts to ensure our future.
Tim L. Ludwig, CRA, FAHRA is AHRA’s organizational liaison for the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). Tim is also a member of the Product Development Committee. He works as vice president of ancillary services at CarolinaEast Health System in New Bern, NC. He can be reached at email@example.com.