M State answers need for imaging technologists

August 13, 2019

A new one-year diploma at Minnesota State Community and Technical College will help fill the region’s need for qualified staff who can perform limited medical imaging procedures, while also offering a new career option for current and future health care workers.

The college’s Limited Scope Radiography diploma program prepares health care workers to take basic diagnostic images of patients, said Ann Bell-Pfeifer, M State’s Radiologic Technology program director.

The program, being offered for the first time this fall, will complement M State’s two-year Radiologic Technology degree, which qualifies students to become registered radiologic technologists. Both programs are offered on the college’s Detroit Lakes campus.

“There are rural clinics and hospitals that need limited scope radiographers to perform basic radiography exams,” Bell-Pfeifer said, “and they asked that we explore the possibility of an LSR program. There is a need for LSR diploma programs in Minnesota and North Dakota, as there aren’t diploma programs offered in either state. It is important for all health care professionals to be educationally prepared and clinically competent.”

Janet Larson, a staff radiologic technologist at Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls, said the LSR program can help ensure that trained staff are available for medical imaging at outreach clinics in smaller communities where there are no full-time radiologic technologists.

“There’s a shortage of technologists in general right now,” said Larson, who advocated for the LSR program as a member of the college’s Radiologic Technology advisory board.

In a typical hospital or clinic setting, LSRs would be qualified to perform basic imaging of areas such as a patient’s lower and upper extremities, chest, spine or skull, according to Radiologic Technology instructor Colleen Brady-Santwire. In addition, she said, they’ll be trained to provide basic patient care activities and techniques such as taking patient vital signs.

The one-year LSR diploma also provides opportunities for workers in other health care specialties – such as medical assistants, phlebotomists and licensed practical nurses – to cross-train so they can fill the need for LSRs at smaller hospitals, medical offices and chiropractic offices.

“Graduates will be valuable employees in so many facets,” Brady-Santwire said.

LSR program graduates who opt to continue their education and become certified radiologic technologists will be able to “bridge” into M State’s two-year Radiologic Technology program. Graduates of the two-year Radiology Technology program are certified for more complex medical imaging.

For more information about M State’s LSR program, visit https://www.minnesota.edu/programs-and-degrees/limited-scope-radiography.