Frequently Asked Questions about Mammography

Q: How do I get started?
A: Mammography clinical practice is governed by a set of regulations that were required after the MQSA legislation. It requires an active ARRT certification in diagnostic radiology or a state license from state that have equivalent recognition. Your continuing education should be satisfied unless you are a new graduate.

Q: Can I get accepted into mammo training if I have a temporary license or certificate?
A: AHEC will not accept a temporary license or certificate for enrollment into initial training for mammography.

Q: Can I perform mammograms before I complete the initial training or do I have to wait until I can demonstrate completion?
A: You must wait! Regulations state that patient care should not be jeopardized by untrained personnel.

Q: What is modality specific training?

A: Facilities are performing either analog(film/screen) mammography or digital mammography. This refers to the type of equipment and image acquisition used to collect the data. Analog mammography uses a high quality film and wet process to develop the image which requires extensive quality control. The digital equipment uses an electronic image acquisition and display process to produce the image. They are so different in the process that the regulations require that you have 8 hours of documented training in the process used at your facility. This cannot be done through equipment applications

Q: My facility has digital equipment. Why should I study analog mammography?
A: At the current time, both types of equipment and processes are still on the ARRT advanced level certification exam. If you don't train on both, you might not be successful.

Q: What does my supervisor or proctor have to do to qualify to supervise my 25 clinical procedures?
A: AHEC requires documentation of a certification in mammography RT,(R)(M), completion of required CE hours, and current standing in experience that 200 or more procedures have been performed in the renewal period. This documentation must be faxed or mailed to AHEC to allow supervision. Supervisors and proctors must sign statements and use AHEC's forms to document successful transfer of classroom and laboratory instruction to the clinical procedure.

Q: How much continuing education will I require as a practicing mammographer to keep my certification active?
A: Regulations require 15 hours of mammography related CE over a 3 year renewal period. During a MQSA facility inspection, the inspector will ask to see your certificates. Inspectors usually want the continuing education to be relevant and some push for you to do 5 hours each year and not wait until the end of your renewal period and try to do it all at one time. That is not the purpose of continuing education. You could be 3 years out of date.

Q: What happens if I don't get the required continuing education in the 3 year period?
A: If you do not satisfy the continuing education (15 hours) and experience (200 procedures) in the renewal period, you cannot perform procedures. If you violate these regulations, you could get a penalty and a cease and desist order for your facility. You can requalify by performing 25 procedures under supervision and obtaining the required continuing education.

Q: How should I keep track of the required continuing experience and the 200 procedures?
A: The most recommended method is to simply keep a log of those procedures you will use to satisfy this requirement.

Q: How long after my initial training can I apply for the ARRT advanced level exam in mammography?
A: ARRT has all the information you will need to prepare for the exam in a booklet that you can order from them. Go to www.arrt.org and obtain the most current information.

Q: If I do the initial training online, where will I get the 25 supervised procedures?
A: AHEC's online initial training program requires that you involve us in your training from the beginning. We will help you with everything you will require to complete the training and satisfy all the regulatory conditions. Don't worry about that part. We are here to walk you through it.

Q: Does any or all of my mammography continuing education have to be in the classroom?
A: You must check with your state to confirm requirements for your state. The MQSA does not prevent you from doing home studies or independent study. It does have to be approved by an RCEEM which is an approval agency recognized by the ARRT. Many mammographers prefer the seminar live event where they get to network and revisit old friends, but it isn't required.

Q: We are getting inspected for the first time next month. Can you help make sure we are prepared?
A: The answer is YES! Our faculty can do reviews via phone and fax, but the best method is an on-site visit to review all the paperwork and procedures before the inspection. It's better to be prepared and look good than to get a violation that could be a setback.

Q: My radiologists are complaining about the staff's positioning skills, what do you recommend?
A: A review of positioning skills would be helpful. We offer an 8 hour online video that covers most of the important parts for positioning. In addition, an on-site instructor that works with each mammographer to identify and isolate what corrections can be done will significantly improve diagnostic quality.

Q: Can my facility sponsor or host a mammography seminar?
A: AHEC has many educational partnerships where the facility sponsors or hosts a seminar for mammography. You can make it just for your in-house staff or you can allow us to market it to other mammogaphers in the community. Either way it is a morale booster and a community service. You can choose among the many AHEC course titles or we can design something just for your group. There is a minimum number of attendees required and that will depend upon where you ae located geographically and how far the instructor must travel. You supply a classroom and audiovisual equipment, and perhaps some coffee and pastries. Your employees receive some discount on tuition dependent upon how many attend. Usually a minimum of 15 attendees are needed to pay expenses.

You may also participate as a group in our conference simulcasts from our corporate office in Houston. You would need a computer, a fast internet connection, and someone willing to serve as the proctor of the simulcast. The proctor has to register through the simulcast software for the broadcast. Their responsibilities include signing in the participants, logging into the broadcast, verifiying attendance, and mailing the attendance records along with names, addresses, and emails of the participants to AHEC. We then issue the certificates and email or snail mail them to the participants. There is no required number to host a simulcast. It's an excellent method to get your CE and have a variety of programs to choose.

Q: Can I use equipment applications training for my initial training or my modality specific training?
A: This is not allowed because of the specific content area that is specified for each of these educational curriculums. A facility can do their own training, however, it must be highly developed with educational objectives and meet the hourly requirement for the classroom hours as well as the clinical hours. It cannot be satisfied doing clinical patients. Most facilities are not willing to invest the time to develop such a program for one person.

Q: I stopped performing mammograms for a few years but want to go back to work. What do I have to do to qualify and meet requirements for mammography?
A: The answer to this question depends on whether you have been compliant with your mammo CE and how long you have been out of the mammo workforce. Most mammo techs can perform 25 supervised exams and make sure their mammo CE is compliant. If you trained before the 40 hour requirement became effective, you probably would get a recommendation to take the current initial training program.