A new partnership between Shore Medical Center's School of Radiologic Technology and Atlantic Cape Community College is strengthening an already appealing career track.

Prompted by a new requirement for taking the national radiology technician's exam, Shore and Atlantic Cape have created a program that will produce graduates with an associate's degree in applied science as well as certification from the School of Radiology.

That will enable graduates to sit for the American Registry of Radiographic Technologists exam, said Rich-ard Fries, radiology school director. Passing that earns ARRT certification, which is required to be licensed as a radiology technician in New Jersey.

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Shore's radiology school has been training students in X-ray imaging since 1992.

The curriculum, Fries said, includes the physics of radiation as it applies to X-rays; principles of X-ray imaging; basic anatomy and positioning for imaging; and radiation biology, which covers the effects of X-rays on people and appropriate dosages for imaging.

The school focuses on X-rays, but students often go on to learn and work in other forms of medical imaging.

"We do offer exposure to other modalities of imaging, especially CAT scan and mammography, and that allows them to decide whether to stay in X-ray or move into other modes," said Derek Suragh, administrative director of radiology at Shore Medical Center.

"We're very proud to have graduated 176 students who have gone into the field to date," said Suragh, of Upper Darby, Pa. "Some of them have moved on to higher modalities like CAT or CT scan (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). A few have been trained in MRI at Penn (University of Pennsylvania Health System) and are in the field working."

Fries, of Egg Harbor Township, said while the radiology school has no placement assistance, "just about every student who wants to get a job when they graduate has gotten a job so far."

The federal Occupational Outlook Handbook says demand for radiologic technologists is expected to increase 28 percent to 61,000 jobs through 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

Median pay in 2010 was $54,340 a year or $26.13 per hour.

Under the new partnership, students will earn 33 credits from the course at the radiology school and 32 credits from Atlantic Cape.

The Atlantic Cape courses, which are prerequisites for applying to the radiology school, include college algebra, English composition, physics, psychology, bioethics, anatomy, medical terminology, western history, communications and computers.

"There is no guarantee that people going through the Atlantic Cape courses will be accepted into our program," Fries said. "We're limited in the number of students we can take and have our own interview process."

Enrollment in the radiology school's two-year program is in January and February, with classes typically of 24 students starting in July.

While students might get financial aid for the Atlantic Cape portion of their degree work, they pay for the radiology school classes themselves, Fries said.

Lecture classes are held at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, and clinical classes are held there and through affiliations at AtlantiCare Medical Center and Cape Regional Medical Center, he said.

Carol Mohrfeld, who chairs the Nursing, Allied Health and Physical Education Department at Atlantic Cape, said student interest has been strong in the very selective program.

She said students who already have an associate's degree also can apply to the radiology school under the program.

"The program is very complex and one of the big concerns I have is that students should get advisement either from the radiology school or from the college, for example to make sure they don't repeat classes," said Mohrfeld, of Hammonton.

She said the school is open to such partnerships that benefit students and is currently pursuing one in health information technology.

"We're looking now to do some work with Camden County College and a little consortium," Mohrfeld said. "We have a lot of students who are interested. We were approached and said, yes, let's look at it."

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