How to Become a Radiologist

How to Become a Radiologist

Radiology is a medical discipline that focuses on the study and use of imaging technology to diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions. Radiologists are specially trained medical doctors that specialize in using imaging technology for the care of their patients.

What does a radiologist do?

Radiologists use a variety of imaging technologies such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT), and many others for assistance in the examination of patients and the diagnosis and treatment of many different medical conditions, illnesses, injuries, and diseases. They examine patient medical history and discuss the procedures and results of the diagnostic tests. They often communicate the results of tests to primary care physicians to assist in the plan of treatment. Radiologists use imaging technology for a variety of procedures such as routine mammograms, fetal ultrasound assessments, treating brain aneurysms, extracting urinary stones, draining an abscess, and stopping internal bleeding by blocking a blood vessel.

What kind of training does a radiologist need?

Radiologists must complete an undergraduate degree, medical school, internship, and residency training. Medical school provides intensive classroom and laboratory instruction as well as clinical rotations of all major medical areas. After medical school prospective radiologist must complete an internship and residency training in radiology. Many radiologists pursue additional fellowship training to specialize in a specific area such as cardiovascular radiology, diagnostic radiology, breast imaging, pediatric radiology, emergency radiology, and genitourinary radiology. All states require radiologists to be licensed in the state in which they intend to practice. Most radiologists must also become board certified from the American Board of Radiology or other similar organization. Certification requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a radiologist?

Employment of all physicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1).

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for radiologists with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace radiologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do radiologists make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of radiologists earn annual salaries between $313,061 and $438,337. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $504,977 (2).

A career as a radiologist is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in radiology and providing care to a variety of patients. Radiologists must have a solid understanding of imaging technology and its application to examine, diagnose, and treat many different medical conditions. They must be patient, confident, self-motivated, and have excellent problem solving and communication skills. They must also be able to help patients feel at ease. Radiologists must be able to work in stressful environments and make effective decisions in emergency situations. Constant adherence to the proper safety procedures to minimize exposure to radioactive materials that can cause long-term health effects is also crucial.

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