MCPHS Adjunct Professor Erin Beloin on the Advanced Certificate in Computed Tomography
Professor Beloin details her professional experience in Computed Tomography, the future of this discipline, the type of professional that would benefit most from obtaining this certificate, and what makes the MCPHS certificate unique.
We recently sat down with MCPHS faculty member Erin Beloin to discuss the Advanced Certificate in Computed Tomography. In the interview, she details her professional experience in Computed Tomography, the future of this discipline, the type of professional that would benefit most from obtaining this certificate, and what makes the MCPHS certificate unique compared to those at other universities.
What is your own experience in computed tomography?
My first experience in computed tomography (CT) was as an entry-level nuclear medicine technologist at an outpatient imaging center. Given the multi-modality nature of the site, I had an opportunity to assist the staff with patients undergoing CT and eventually cross-train into the specialty. With my post-primary credentials I gained experience in dedicated CT as well as hybrid modalities, including single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/CT and positron emission tomography (PET)/CT. I’ve used my certification in CT to perform general clinical examinations, as well as specific applications in pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, and clinical research.
How is computed tomography different from other forms of medical imaging like a typical X-ray or MRI? What makes it unique?
Computed tomography (CT) utilizes x-ray technology to acquire image data from multiple angles around the patient. Specialized reconstruction processes allow this three-dimensional information to be presented in a cross-sectional format along the length of the patient’s body. Compared to traditional X-ray, a CT scan provides more detail related to the characterization and location of various structures within the body. It eliminates the challenges posed by superimposed structure on two-dimensional imaging. Computed tomography exams excel at diagnosing and monitoring diseases, evaluating skeletal injuries, visualizing blood vessels and/or internal bleeding, guiding interventional procedures, and planning for radiotherapy treatment.
Who would benefit most from the Advanced Certificate in Computed Tomography program? How might the certificate help their careers?
Computed tomography is a post-primary medical imaging modality, which requires primary certification in nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, and/or radiography. Acquiring certification in CT is professionally rewarding and can lead to career advancement in the field of medical imaging. In 2019, CT technologists in the United States earned $10,000 more per year than their colleagues in radiography. For nuclear medicine technologists and radiation therapists, certification in CT enhances clinical knowledge, helps ensure safe operation of multi-modality systems, and allows for participation in a broader range of patient care activities. Individuals who enjoy a fast-paced and physically active work environment are great candidates for cross-training into CT. This modality also offers a flexible range of per diem, part-time, and full-time positions across all shifts.
Why is computed tomography an important part of patient care?
Computed tomography is an efficient, noninvasive, and detailed diagnostic tool. Patients who enter the hospital through the emergency department often undergo a CT scan to direct the management of abdominal pain, chest pain and/or shortness of breath, or headache. Physicians also utilize CT in a variety of non-urgent clinical settings to obtain anatomic and physiologic information that cannot be provided using alternative diagnostic tests. Although CT utilizes ionizing radiation, the benefits of properly ordered exams outweigh the risks associated with patient exposure.
What are the current and future career opportunities in this area? Where do you see computed tomography heading in the future?
CT technologists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient imaging centers, physicians’ offices, educational institutions, and scientific research corporations. The modality continues to evolve, offering ever-expanding diagnostic capabilities. Many systems currently utilize dual-energy technology, which can reduce the number of scans and amount of contrast required, characterize body tissues (ex. kidney stones) to better guide treatment, and improve image quality for patients with certain types of implants. Future advancements will offer continued improvements in contrast-to-noise ratio, spatial resolution, and radiation exposure, especially through the application of machine learning algorithms.
What makes this advanced certificate unique compared to other certificates that are offered by other programs throughout the United States?
The MCPHS certificate program offers a streamlined and flexible way to earn CT credentials. The program requires certification in nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, and/or radiography through the ARRT and/or NMTCB, but does not require a formal application. Classes are offered online every semester, and students can select course offerings using an a la carte approach. Students may take one course or all three courses depending on individual needs. MCPHS University provides clinical site placement if needed and access to instructors with in-depth knowledge of the field.
Explore our Advanced Certificate in Computed Tomography.