Since Albert Einstein Medical Center’s School of Radiologic Technology opened its doors in 1948, it had always enjoyed a reputation for turning out well-equipped graduates, and virtually all of them found employment within six months of leaving the program.
All of that began to change when the economy hit the skids in 2008. The Philadelphia-area radiologic technologist job market started to tighten up. Einstein RT grads began having a hard time finding work.
In 2011, Einstein placed the school on hiatus—never really knowing for sure whether it would ever start up again.
Now, not only is the School of Radiologic Technology once again up and running, it has been recognized as the best radiologic technologist training program in the country.
That’s a gratifying outcome for Linda DeRenzis, MSEd, BSAH, RT (R), the director of the program—who also happens to have graduated from it.
She recalls the hard times. “In 2011 and 2012 we did not enroll any new students,” says DeRenzis. “I had to let my faculty go.”
Other local programs were going through the same dry spell, she notes. In fact, four local programs that shuttered their doors have never opened them again.
There was yet another impediment to re-opening. Around the same time, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the largest radiologic technology credentialing organization, changed its minimum registry eligibility standards. ARRT required graduates to have an associate’s degree. Einstein’s program was sponsored by a hospital, so it didn’t have a way to fulfill that requirement.
Since those disquieting days, two things have happened: the job market has improved, and the Einstein program has affiliated with Philadelphia University, which enables students to graduate with an associate’s degree. After a good deal of research into market conditions and other factors, Einstein’s School of Radiologic Technology started accepting students again in 2013. “You do as much research as you can,” DeRenzis says, “and you hope.”
Her hope seems to have been justified. The first class since the re-opening has graduated, and of the 16 grads, DeRenzis happily notes, “we have 100 percent job placement. It all worked out for a reason.”
As if that weren’t reason enough for optimism, recently DeRenzis received the happy news that the School of Radiologic Technology has received a “Minnie” Award, recognizing it as the best such training program in the United States. The award is presented by AuntMinnie.com, a highly regarded online community of radiologists and related medical imaging professionals.
DeRenzis isn’t sure who nominated the school, but to receive the award, she says, “is fulfilling because it is voted upon by our peers.”
The award certainly adds to the school’s luster, she says—the favorable publicity can’t hurt—but at the same time, the school has never had trouble filling seats. ”Until we made the announcement of our hiatus,” she says, “we’ve never had to market the school. Everyone who has come has found us by word of mouth.”
At the same time, the award says a lot about the quality of Einstein’s RT training program, she says. “It’s icing on the cake.”