I’m Mimi Owen, I am the current President of the Southeastern Society of Nuclear Medicine, Technologist Section,, as well as the Program Director if the Nuclear Medicine Program at the Medical College of Georgia. It is a pleasure to be with you all today to bring to you some information about our profession. Some of the information will be of general interest to you, and some of the information will be of very personal interest, but ALL the information should be of some level of interest if you want to keep you ear to the ground and understand the directions that the profession are taking in the near and long term.
Just a little housekeeping first, about where to find information about upcoming meetings and other things relevant to the profession…I encourage you to become internet active if you are not. For those in our profession, and at the national, regional, and local levels, the internet has become the most efficient manner of communication. And if you are’nt comfortable with it, don’t worry, it’s okay to ask. Think back to how comfortable you were with the first GI Bleed that you ever had to preform.
When I took this office a year ago, I decided that I couldn’t make a long term commitment to this sort of thing, but that I would attempt to provide some advocacy with substance for the specific needs of the southeast for this period of time. That I would provide some concrete progress rather than lipservice. I identified the areas that were in the most current disarray in the southeast and moved forward to address these areas. The technologist workforce crisis, and that area most closely tied to affecting change, the programs that provide new graduates to help address the problem….oops, I mean “challenge and opportunity”. And to find some concrete ways to evaluate the situation and suggest strategies for change. Tomorrow starts today, and it’s up to us to be our own change agents for the future. And so I suggest that we move from Unclear Medicine to be NuClear Medicine…. And I will be VERY CLEAR about the future as we move on here.
So, I’ll look at some changes in clinical practice trends Some interpretation of the salary survey that was completed by the national snm recently, and how is applies in Alabama I’ll talk about a few basic areas that have been addressed by the society at the national level, And I’ll mention a few things about directions in education at training that are proposed by the ASRT and the SNM to help structure some longterm solutions to workforce problems that seem unworkable in trying to stuff the old healthsystem organization into the new structure of managed healthcare. And lastly, I’ll talk about specific things that you can do that might help improve your individual situation and help provide smoother sailing for tomorrow. This is what I call “Advocacy with Substance”
Where we were Those of you in the business for a long time are probably familiar with changes that have taken place in our workplace, and if your eyes and ears haven’t been open for the last ten years, it probably caught you by surprise. Most of us went in to healthcare in general and nuclear medicine in particular because we wanted to “help people” This is no different even from the students who are here with us today. And certainly helping people, that is our main focus, or should be our main focus….being and advocate for our patients….being in the moment with the patient. Today, it is sometimes difficult to maintain that focus as we become overwhelmed with paperwork and “show-me-the-money”…on both sides.
Where we are The US Health force is Aging Fewer potential workers coming up behind the Baby Boomer Generation – Here you see (pick a guy and a gal in your audience that is within this age range) making a statement in 1968…here is where they will be shortly. Careers in Healthcare are sometimes seen as less attractive to those entering employment than the lure of big money in the information technology fields that had high profiling and recruitment until the recent economic downturn. So, over the last five years in the state of Alabama, we’ve seen the patient loads go up, and the manpower pool go down, leaving some of us to feel like we’re running the drive throw window at MacDonalds. And, as we’ll see in a minute, this trend will continue unless there can be some major changes in directional thinking.
Where we are. A study released just this month examining a broad range of hospital staffing reports that of 100% of hospital CEO’s responding from across the US, 84% of the institutions report nursing shortages, followed up in second place by radiologic and nuclear imaging technologists at 71%
When looking at a variety of data sources specific to workforce statistics in Alabama, I found, and this is not unusual to most southern states, that many statistics were available in most other areas of allied health, but not any for any of the radiologic technologies. We are generally fractionated across the RT subspecialties. These other areas are targeted because they are defined as “professions”, and they have unified professional organizations, paid lobbiest, and a structured collective voice.
Where we’ll be When we look at the longterm data, we’ll see that in all of AHS that there will be 5 million jobs to be filled by 2010 and by 2080, of these jobs, we will need 75,000 imaging professionals. And,…the average age of the US labor force will be almost 41 years old. So you’ll see the baby boomers leaving the workforce and checking into the hospital.
The RadTech schools are making valiant efforts to respond to this need, and I can tell you that since 1999 there has been an appreciable rise in the number of students entering programs. You can see that NM is up the most with a 29.1% increase. But that is only represented by an increase in numbers from 970 in 1999 to 1252 in 2002…Nationally. I don’t think that will be adequate to meet that target of 75,000 that I mentioned earlier. And the Department of Labor and Statistics reports NMT as a career growing faster than the rest of the market…. But we already knew that.
Obviously, part of the reason for the growth in the NM student population is due to the published information about the shortage and the rising salary scale. Make no mistake. Money talks. The SNM salary survey published in November is available at www.nmtcb.org The survey provides numbers in every possible configuration that can be broken out. I pulled out just a few numbers to make a couple points. The national figures show that the average salary for a person who has working in the current position for 1 year is $39,629. If you’ve been working in the same job for 16-20 years, your salary is around $48,000 per year. Now compare that to the person who has worked at the current institution for less than a year. Salary is about $46,500. This represents the musical chairs of job change and competitive bidding for technologists responding to the standard economic law of supply and demand.
One very interesting result to me was the data that shows that the person who has worked less than a year is making MORE than the person who has been in the same position for a year. This indicates that the supply is still short and that the salaries continue to rise to meet the competition. And unless THIS FIGURE (Click) CAN COME CLOSER TO THIS FIGURE(Click) , the “challenge” will continue to daunt us.
If you live in Alaska, you make around $57,710 per year, but with only 2 people reporting, the statistics probably aren’t very reliable. S. Dakota weighs in at low at $37 600. And I’d be willing to bet that the entire S.D. NMT population reported at 11. Frankly, I didn’t know that there’d be more than 11 patients in the state of S.D. And you can see that Alabama comes in at number 20 within the upper 50% quartile. This is based on 25 respondents reporting. If you know anything at all about statistics, and gosh knows, there’s nothing more boring than statistics, but one rough rule of thumb is that you need at least 30 respondents in a sample group to begin to give validity to data, so this number might give a ballpark figure, but I can’t really speak to how accurate it might be. It is probably representative of the salaries attached to the biotechnical center in Birmingham, but that’s just speculation on my part. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CONSIDERATION IS….NOW….. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THIS ROOM? HOW MANY TECHNOLOGISTS WORK IN THE STATE OF ALABAMA? This suggests just how fractionated the technologist population is in the SE, and probably in the rest of the nation.
And out of 8 southern states, Alabama comes in at at number one. The most accurate numbers reported here are probably from FLA and Kentucky, but when you consider that the technologist population in all of the SE, that is, those who are paid members of the national SNM is around 1200 to 1500, then 375 reporting for the SE is fairly pathetic. And that doesn’t even take into consideration non-members. And again, I make my point that data is what give support to change, and without active unification, we cannot provide the data to support our needs.
And, as in just about anything else you could poll for, the south comes in last in the regional average salaries, lagging about $2550 behind the mean. But we already knew that. I guess we still fall in the area of the jokes about trailer parks and tornadoes and family trees. You see that the Pacific States are the place to be right now for Nuclear Medicine. I think it’s important to understand that even though money is almost always a touchy subject from everybody’s point of view, that it continues to be the most attractive lure for perspective program applicants.
So what other changes are in store? Who knows what the C.A.R.E. act is? Let’s see a show of hands. Well, it may be time to place all of our eggs in a central basket and pull for the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence which was introduced in Congress 2 years ago. This bill works to set minimum standards of education for all persons working in the imaging specialties. It doesn’t suggest educational levels, but only suggest that national standards be established, and that all persons performing in the modalities must meet specific competency and credentialing requirements.
The national efforts toward the C.A.R.E. act are being addressed concurrently by all of the primary professional organizations in Radiologic Sciences along with recommendations to investigate endorsing the bachelor level degree as the entry-level standard for NMT by 2010 thereby bringing the profession in line with other disciplines at which the B.S. degree is accepted as the level for licensure. Why is it considered important to be a “Profession”? Because it requires oversight to assure minimum standards of practice. It’s easy to maintain such standards when supply of qualified workers is plentiful at a price administrators can afford, but we have seen how effective that voluntary good standard policy is in the face of a severe crunch. In several Southeastern states, “May I see your current certification” has been replaced by “Let me check your pulse, can you fog this mirror?…” This would provide a structure for identifying varying levels and competency of radiologic support requiring shorter didactic and clinical education time but providing a more systematic level of support for technologists. Perhaps like medical assistants or radiologic coders, or something like that. And then expanding the top end with some intermediary between a technologist and a physician, sometimes referred to as “radiology extenders” who would operate something like a physician assistant for radiology. This would create another path for career mobility beyond medical physics, or to a masters level as an educator.
We’re all in this together, and regardless of where you are, we are all moving in the same direction with the raging river that is healthcare. So how do we manage our own area of the pond? Stay in the loop, network, go to the weblinks and see what’s going on in your profession. Become active, run for office at the local regional and national level Take this piece of paper back to your workplace and show it to your colleagues. Show them the VALUE of membership and involvement in professional organizations. Those babyboomers are getting WAY too old to be the footsoldiers of protest that they were noted as being. Help with recruitment for the future. Use the data, take it to the people who can provide the solutions Be a part of the process
It’s been a top down process for a long time. But those at the top. Not the SNM office in Reston, or the president of the tech section Frances Keech, or your Mimi Owen, the president of the SE Chapter who compiled this presentation, or I nor any of the officers in the Alabama chapter can do this by ourselves. It MUST be a bottom up process. It MUST come from the Grassroots. And you must raise your collective voices to the people who write the checks and make the policy. And you can get their attention with data, numbers, information…..checks are written and policy made with good, hard information. These are just a few of the places that you can get information to provide to your administrators, your university system, your statehouse, and your federal representatives. You are the footsoldiers of our initiative. Let’s all march in the same general direction….collectively. It’s time for you to provide advocacy with substance. Collect data in your department.
You can be a change agent. You can make a difference at home. Go to a highschool and tell some high schoolers about our profession. They know two things about medicine….Doctor…Nurse. We all know that even the people in our own are of radiology, who should know, don’t have a clue of what we do, much less a 17-year-old who might be looking for an “exciting career where I can help people.” It’s up to you to help round up the technologists of the future. It’s up to you to be the foot soldiers. We need and army that marches in step. You can be a part of that. You can make a difference in your own house much easier than we can affect it from a distance.
And then we can get back to what we came for. To help people. To put down the paperwork and get back to being in the moment with our patients.
Grassroots in the SE: Advocacy with Substance.
Nuclear Medicine Technology
State of the Profession
Mary Anne Owen, M.H.E., RT(N)
President, Southeastern Chapter
Society of Nuclear Medicine
• National Meeting in Los Angeles:
– June 15-19
• SE Chapter Meeting in Orlando
– September 13-15
• SE Chapter Webpage:
– http://www.snm.org Chapters Southeast
From “UnClear” Medicine to
Nu Clear Medicine
• Expansion and Recruitment for
• Prepare for the Future
““Challenges and Opportunities”Challenges and Opportunities”
• Clinical Environment and Scope of
• Where we stack up with $$$
• Proposed Credentialing Considerations
• Advocacy with Substance
• Consumer Assurance of Radiologic
– ensure that patients undergoing all types of
radiologic procedures have the same assurance
of competency as those receiving mammograms
under the provisions of the Mammography
Quality Standards Act.
Changes in Educational Standards?
• ASRT and SNM
– Investigate and collect data surrounding B.S.
as entry-level by 2010 – Professional Status
• What happens to Certs and A.S. Degrees?
– Career Ladders based on competency and
knowledge at each level?
– Potential for “Radiology Extenders”?
What to do?
Advocacy with Substance
• Stay in the Loop
• Snag the people out of the Loop
• Alert the people with the power
• Help with recruitment
• Use the data
• Be a part of the process….
Find the Numbers
• http://www.nmtcb.org/ News and publications
• https://www.asrt.org/asrt.htm ASRT foundation
• http://www.aha.org/workforce/index.asp AHA
snm workforce survey
C.A.R.E. sample letter