Lifespan School of Medical Imaging

About Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging modality that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to image the body. It offers exquisite soft tissue detail used in diagnosing a variety of conditions. MRI has several applications, such as functional MRI, cardiac imaging, research, interventional and spectroscopy. MRI provides the ability to view cross-sectional images of anatomical regions in any arbitrary plane.

To perform an MRI scan, the patient is securely placed on an imaging table within a large scanner. Powerful magnetic fields are administered to align the nuclei in the body. Radio frequency pulses are applied causing the release of some of their energy. The computer generates a detailed view of anatomical structures and analyzes the energy emission detected by the MRI equipment.

As an MR technologist, you are challenged to integrate your knowledge of the fundamental principles of MRI safely into the field of medicine. In order to stay current a successful technologist must be proficient in MR physics, procedures, cross-sectional anatomy, physiology and clinical applications.

The MRI technologist is able to:

  • Apply the principles of magnetic resonance imaging to formulate images
  • Apply knowledge of anatomy, physiology and positioning to accurately demonstrate anatomical structures on an image
  • Determine parameters to achieve optimum images
  • Evaluate images for appropriate positioning and image quality
  • Provide patient care and comfort
  • Evaluate the performance of imaging systems, know the safe limits of the equipment operations and report malfunctions to the proper authority
  • Exercise independent judgment and discretion in technical performance of medical imaging procedures
  • Have daily contact with highly trained healthcare professionals

A typical workday may find the MRI technologist:

  • Completing safety screening forms on staff, patients and their families
  • In the trauma center, scanning brains for strokes or spines for trauma
  • Starting IV’s on a patient for their MRI scan
  • Coaching a claustrophobic patient through their scan
  • Explaining exams and MRI safety information to patients
  • Researching implants and devices for safety information
  • Scanning a knee for a meniscal tear
brain images
MRI provides the ability to view cross-sectional images of anatomical regions in any arbitrary plane.

The MRI technologist should exhibit professionalism in the performance of these duties, demonstrate an empathetic and instructional approach to patient care, and have the knowledge and expertise to provide quality scans. Professional growth and development is achieved through participation in medical and technical education.

For additional information, please visit Section for Magnetic Resonance Technologists at

Career Opportunities

The majority of MRI technologists are employed in hospitals and outpatient medical centers. MRI technologists may be able to further advance with compensatory salary through continuing education and experience.
Areas of specialization include:

  • Education
  • Hospital administration
  • Application specialist
  • Quality management
  • Research
  • Industry sales
  • Safety officer
  • Cardiac