UAMS Offers First Master’s Level Radiologist Assistant Program West of the Mississippi River

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – A rising demand for imaging services, compounded by a shortage of radiologists, is addressed by the new radiologist assistant program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), one of only seven RA programs in the nation and the first master’s level RA program west of the Mississippi River.


The UAMS program, now taking applications for the fall 2006 semester, will graduate radiologist assistants with a master’s degree, qualifying them for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.


Demand for imaging services – from X-rays to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – has increased to diagnose health problems and track the effectiveness of treatment. At the same time, the need for health services is increasing as the nation’s large “baby boomer” generation reaches its 60s and 70s.


The radiologist assistant is a new job title in medical imaging, describing experienced radiologic technologists with specific advanced skills.  The RA enhances patient care by enabling radiologist to serve more patients.


With radiologist supervision, the radiologist assistant performs initial patient assessment, patient management and other radiology procedures. The radiologist assistant also makes initial observations of diagnostic images for the radiologist and performs patient education and outreach duties.


“This program is designed for experienced, highly-motivated, radiologic technologists who want to advance in their careers and take on more clinical responsibility,” said Rebecca Ludwig, Ph.D., interim chairman of the Department of Imaging and Radiation Sciences in the UAMS College of Health Related Professions.


Ludwig said there has been a shortage of radiologists in recent years. A 2001 report said there were about 25,000 practicing radiologists in the U.S., and nearly 40 percent of them were older than 50. In the late 1990s, there were decreasing numbers of radiology residents, meaning there were fewer young radiologists entering the profession.


This shortage could become more acute as the “baby boomer” generation reaches retirement age, both through the retirement of radiologists and the increased demand for imaging services by a more elderly population.


Students in the radiologist assistant program must have a bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology, certification in advanced cardiac life support techniques and experience working as a radiologic technologist.


For a full-time student, the coursework can be completed in five semesters, compared to a maximum of nine semesters for a part-time student. Ludwig said the degree plan can be customized to meet the needs of the student.


Coursework for the RA program is mostly conducted online. The student serves their clinical internship courses with a licensed radiologist as part of the program.


For more information about the radiologist assistant program at UAMS, contact the Department of Imaging and Radiation Sciences at 501-686-7438 or visit


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year.