It is important for members of the public to note, that generally speaking, patients do not chose their medical radiation technologist (MRT). Patients go to a hospital, clinic or independent health facility for a procedure, and the MRT that has been assigned to that particular unit at that time conducts the procedure.
An MRT is the qualified professional who uses radiation or electromagnetism to produce diagnostic images of a patient's body or who administers radiation to treat patients for certain medical conditions, on the order of a physician or other authorized health professional.
During two to five years of intensive education, MRTs are trained to use sophisticated and complex imaging and radiation therapy equipment. MRTs use this equipment on the order of a physician to produce images of different parts of the body which are then interpreted by a physician. MRTs also apply radiation to parts of the body for radiation therapy, again on the order of a physician or other authorized health professional.
MRTs work within one of five specialties in medical radiation technology:
- Radiography is the use of x-rays to produce images of parts of the body on digital screens. For example, mammograms, chest x-rays, barium enemas and CT scans.
- Radiation Therapy is the treatment of disease with radiation which involves the use of radiation to destroy diseased cells in the body; for example, cancer
- Nuclear Medicine is the use of low-level radioactive substances which are injected, swallowed or inhaled to produce diagnostic images of how the body functions. For example, bone scans, cardiac stress testing and lung scans
- Magnetic Resonance is the use of electromagnetism to produce diagnostic images. Magnetic resonance imaging procedures play a significant role in imaging the brain, spine, abdomen, pelvis and the musculoskeletal system
- Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the use of sound waves to produce diagnostic images
The Regulated Health Professions Act and the companion health profession Acts govern the practice of regulated health professions in Ontario. For medical radiation technology, the companion Act is the Medical Radiation Technology Act (MRT Act). The MRT Act sets out the scope of practice statement for medical radiation technology, as follows:
"The practice of medical radiation technology is the use of ionizing radiation, electromagnetism and other prescribed forms of energy for the purposes of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, the evaluation of images and data relating to the procedures and the assessment of an individual before, during and after the procedures."
In addition to using radiation and electromagnetism, there are controlled acts that MRTs are authorized to perform on the order of a physician, (or in the case of the application of electromagnetism for magnetic resonance imaging procedures, the order may also be from another authorized health professional) according to the MRT Act which governs the profession. These are:
- Administering substances by injection or inhalation.
- Tracheal suctioning of a tracheostomy.
- Administering contrast media, or putting an instrument, hand or finger,
- Beyond the opening of the urethra,
- Beyond the labia majora,
- Beyond the anal verge, or
- Into an artificial opening of the body.
- Performing a procedure on tissue below the dermis.
- Applying a prescribed form of energy.
Registration and Titles
No one may use the title medical radiation technologist or its abbreviations without being a member of the CMRTO. And no one may use the terms
- Medical Radiation Technologist - Radiography, MRT(R)
- Medical Radiation Technologist - Radiation Therapy or Medical Radiation Technologist - Radiation Therapist, MRT(T)
- Medical Radiation Technologist - Nuclear Medicine, MRT(N)
- Medical Radiation Technologist - Magnetic Resonance, MRT(MR)
- Medical Radiation Technologist - Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, MRT(DMS) or DMS
or their abbreviations - without holding the corresponding specialty certificate. If a member of the CMRTO resigns, he or she is unable to use the title medical radiation technologist until such time as the member reinstates.
Classes of CMRTO Certificates
There are two classes of CMRTO certificates, although the specialty certificate is by far the most common:
This certificate authorizes MRTs to practise one or more of:
- radiography MRT(R)
- radiation therapy MRT(T)
- magnetic resonance MRT(MR)
- nuclear medicine MRT(N)
- diagnostic medical sonography MRT(DMS) or DMS
Information about the other classes of CMRTO certificates can be obtained from the CMRTO.
Members of the public can find out the registration status of their MRT from the Public Register of Members section of the CMRTO website or by contacting the CMRTO.
Professionals - And Keeping It That Way
MRTs are members of a regulated health care profession; as such they must conduct themselves in a completely professional manner. MRTs in this province must be registered with the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Standards of Practice developed by the CMRTO outline what is considered satisfactory performance for MRTs.
These standards cover the technical aspects of the procedure and also how patients are to be treated. The MRT who is assisting patients by performing an imaging or treatment procedure is expected to meet these standards, and the CMRTO makes sure that MRTs work with the public according to these standards.