The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology


The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology


Accreditation is a process of external quality control. Through a process of peer review, a nongovernmental agency attests to the adequacy of an institution or program in meeting established standards. Students enrolled in a program of study in the radiologic sciences will likely encounter accreditation in several ways: the educational program in which they are enrolled may be accredited; the educational and/or hospital institution that sponsors the educational program may be accredited; and the clinical settings in which they receive clinical education and experience may be housed in accredited institutions.

Two forms of educational accreditation have been established: institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation seeks to assess the overall quality and integrity of an institution. Most postsecondary educational institutions that sponsor radiologic sciences programs are accredited by one of several regional or national (institutional) accrediting agencies. Specialized accreditation, on the other hand, seeks to address educational endeavors at the program level. These agencies, of which the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is an example, evaluate the quality and integrity of individual programs. Although the specific process is somewhat different for each type of accreditation, the general principles are the same.

In the broadest sense, accreditation exists to safeguard the public. For example, when a health care organization voluntarily meets the standards established by an accrediting organization, the public can be assured that the quality of the services it provides meets certain minimal levels. Educational accreditation also has a role in safeguarding the public by ensuring the adequacy of the preparation of college graduates. An educational institution that meets accreditation standards of regional accrediting agencies is able to offer prospective and enrolled students and others that it meets, at the least, the minimal standards developed by broad educational communities of interest. Institutional and national accreditation authorities review broad areas such as structure and governance of the institution, finances, and so forth.

At the program level, particularly in the health fields, the adequacy of education is of significant concern to the general public. The accreditation of programs in radiologic sciences that voluntarily meet standards establishes that these programs adhere to nationally developed professional education standards in their preparation of these health care professionals. It assures the public, the profession, and the students that graduates are adequately prepared for professional practice as determined by the profession. Program accreditation authorities review and evaluate criteria more directly related to the profession, for example, the curriculum, specific faculty qualifications, and clinical experience and supervision. Particularly in the case of radiologic technology, attention is paid to radiation safety issues and student supervision to ensure quality patient care.

History of the JRCERT, radiologic sciences education, and accreditation

From the earliest days after Roentgen’s discovery of the x-ray in 1895, the need for proper training in the use of this powerful force was recognized. The first physicians who experimented with the use of the Roentgen ray in the diagnosis of disease informally trained x-ray technicians on an as-needed basis; this training followed the apprentice model. The individual observed procedures and then performed them with progressively less supervision; no organized classroom activities existed.

The onset of more formal training programs began with radiologists and technicians working together to establish instructional programs in a few hospitals. The American Medical Association (AMA) was recognized as the official accrediting agency, but it delegated the responsibility for the inspection and evaluation of educational programs to the American College of Radiology (ACR). In 1944, x-ray technology (the predecessor of radiologic technology) became the fifth health occupation (after occupational therapy, clinical laboratory sciences, physical therapy, and medical records administration) to establish standards of education and qualifications for program accreditation. The first criteria published in Essentials of an Acceptable School for X-Ray Technicians on June 12, 1944, in the Journal of the American Medical Association were the product of negotiations between the American Society of X-Ray Technicians (now the American Society of Radiologic Technologists [ASRT]) and the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the AMA. A limited didactic curriculum was required, but the emphasis was on clinical learning and proficiency through repetitive practice and skills development. By 1950, approximately 125 schools offered training in x-ray technology.

The Commission on Technologist Affairs of the ACR carried out program evaluation from 1944 to 1969. The review of programs was a joint effort that involved both radiologists and radiologic technologists. During the latter part of this period, “education” replaced “training” as the curricula evolved to include significant didactic components in support of clinical experience. The idea of progression from classroom to clinical learning began to take hold, and radiologic technologists rather than radiologists increasingly assumed primary responsibility for the educational programs.

In 1964, radiation therapy was recognized as a distinct discipline separate from radiography, and the first “Essentials” recognized for the support of radiation therapy programs were implemented in 1968. Nuclear medicine became recognized as a distinct discipline in 1969. Educational programs in nuclear medicine technology are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology. As the radiologic sciences have continued to advance, additional disciplines have evolved. The first standards for magnetic resonance programs were adopted by the JRCERT in 2003, and standards for educational programs in medical dosimetry were adopted in 2004.

The number of educational programs grew dramatically, and the evaluation of their compliance (the agreement with published educational standards) became more complex. In 1969, the ASRT and the ACR established the JRCERT. It became incorporated in 1971 and assumed the responsibilities for evaluating educational programs in radiography and radiation therapy. At that time, the JRCERT operated as part of the AMA Council on Medical Education. In 1976, the AMA Council on Medical Education delegated responsibility for allied health accreditation to a newly formed Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA). The JRCERT worked with this agency until 1992, when CAHEA dissolved.

In the early 1970s, more than 1300 radiography and radiation therapy programs were accredited by the AMA. Today, the JRCERT accredits more than 600 radiography, 80 radiation therapy, 12 medical dosimetry, and 3 magnetic resonance educational programs. In the past 30 years, many of the radiography and radiation therapy program closures have been the result of hospitals withdrawing from program sponsorship. Many of these institutions, however, have not removed themselves completely from education; instead, they now affiliate with academic institutions and serve as recognized clinical education settings for the academic programs. The JRCERT currently recognizes more than 7300 clinical education settings as affiliates for educational programs in the radiologic sciences.

During this same period, radiologic sciences education continued to evolve. Educational programs became more structured, the curriculum was significantly expanded, and competency became a defining principle. Instead of prescribing the experiences that students must have and the number of hours of instruction students must complete, the emphasis shifted to the outcome of the process, that is, whether graduates are capable of performing as entry-level practitioners in their respective disciplines. Programs were structured to guide students from basic theoretic knowledge and laboratory experience to limited clinical experience. As students progressed through educational programs, the level of clinical involvement increased as the level of supervision decreased.

After the dissolution of CAHEA, the JRCERT became an independent agency and petitioned the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) for recognition; this recognition was granted in 1992. The JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the USDE to accredit educational programs in radiography and radiation therapy. Just as programs must submit applications and self-study reports to be accredited by the JRCERT, the JRCERT must periodically submit a petition and documentation of its compliance with federal regulations to the USDE to maintain recognition.


The effective operation of the JRCERT requires the efforts and collaboration of three distinct groups of people.

Board of Directors

The JRCERT is incorporated in the state of Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation. Although the corporate directors are volunteers who serve without compensation, they have a legal duty and responsibility to protect the interests of the JRCERT as an organization. These directors establish policy and have professional responsibilities specific to the accreditation process. In support of the concept of peer review

Mar 2, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL RADIOLOGY | Comments Off on The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology
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