AHRA 2017 Preview: Need help navigating technologist accreditation? A Hoosier is here to help

An alphabet soup of regulatory bodies and accreditation agencies can make the process of properly credentialing radiologic technologists a head-spinning affair. Fortunately, Cybil Nielsen, MBA, nuclear medicine technology program director at Indiana University School of Medicine, will set the record straight at the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) 45th Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Nielsen spoke to Radiology Business about her upcoming presentation on the regulatory environment for radiologic technologists.

Radiology Business: What are some of the most common issues regarding accreditation and licensure?

Cybil Nielson, MBA: One of the main objects of confusion we’re seeing is overlaps of scopes of practice. There’s a lot of hybrid imaging and there’s a lot of questions about who can do what.

What are the qualifications, what are the education requirements, which accrediting body decides a technologist can perform PET-CTR or PET-MR—these are where I get the most questions.

Right now, the Joint Commission only requires certification if you are doing CT. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) have different rules but for the most part they require accreditation as a radiologic technologist to perform any radiologic imaging. For all modalities, IAC and ACR require some type of credentialing, while the Joint Commission only requires credentials for CT.

They also have differing requirements for continued competence and maintaining licensure.

A broader area of my talk is breaking down where these rules come from. Who decides the scope of practice? Who decides just exactly what accreditation agencies require from technologists Who decides state licensure? I want to review all the regulatory agencies that govern the profession of radiologic technologists, share their perspective and explain why they make the various rules that they do.

What are some questions you receive from radiology managers?

I get similar questions all the time from facility managers: “Can this person do this?” I can’t say yes or no because it depends on a whole host of things. Even in my area, from one hospital to the next, the same individual who can do something at one hospital can be barred from doing it at another, because of facility policies.

What is geography’s impact in sussing out proper regulation?

Every state has different licensure laws and regulations that govern what technologists can and cannot do. I can’t cover all 50 states, but I will give attendees info on where they can find licensure laws for their individual states.

Are there any regulatory challenges on the docket?

Right now, there’s a move toward deregulation of technologists, but for the most part the profession is fighting for state licensure to ensure high quality patient care is being performed. Several states are looking at deregulation for a variety of licensures, not just for radiologic technicians but for a whole host of professions.

Part of this is a push for physician extenders, such as nurse practitioners, being allowed to preform radiologic studies. The profession is opposed to it because nurse practitioners don’t have the education and credentials.