How to Become a Radiologist

A radiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in medical imaging.

When you become a radiologist you will use a range of techniques to create visualizations of the interior of the human body, all of which use radiation.

An X-ray, a CAT scan, and an ultrasound are all common methods that radiologists use the create images of the human body.

If you are interested in medicine and health and enjoy study and research, then you might like to become a radiologist.

The educational pathway to get there is long, but nuclear medicine and radiology are also fascinating subjects to learn about.

Radiologists are rewarded with a challenging career, excellent job prospects, and a secure salary upon graduation.

Education Requirements to Become a Radiologist

To become a radiologist, you will first need to complete a four-year bachelor degree at college.

Look for a school with a strong pre-medicine course line.

Take subjects like math, physics, biology and chemistry.

You’ll need to get strong grades to be accepted into medical school.

After college, you’ll need to complete medical school, which takes an additional four years.

You will complete theoretical work which relates to the practice of medicine, and also start gaining practical experience with patients.

After medical school, you will need to complete a residency in radiology, this will take an additional five years.

After this you can work as a licensed radiologist.

In all states you need to be licensed to become a radiologist, in most places this involves sitting for an exam.

The American College of Radiology has good career information available on its website.

Radiologist Job Description

When you become a radiologist, you will use a range of techniques such as ultrasounds, tomography, nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography, and magnetic reasoning imaging.

Radiology involves far more than just forming images.

A radiologist must work closely with a patient as well as their referring doctor.

A wide range of variables can affect imaging, and for this reason a radiologist takes a detailed medical history.

Just as important as taking the images is analyzing them and forming a diagnosis.

A radiologist will look for a host of problems in the images they take.

They may treat a patient themselves, or refer them on to another specialist for care.

A patient is usually referred to a radiologist by another medical practitioner.

The doctor will send ahead the patient’s file, along with a letter explaining why they have been referred and what problems the radiologist will look for.

The radiologist will then complete a range of tests to produce internal imaging.

Common problems that a radiologist will diagnose include broken bones, cancer, kidney stones, torn ligaments, pneumonia, and internal bleeding.

Here are some of the daily tasks a radiologist might complete:

  • Consulting with a patient
  • Communicating with other medical professionals
  • Using a range of imaging techniques
  • Analyzing images to make a diagnosis
  • Keeping accurate patient records

Radiologist Salary and Career Path

Radiologists work in hospitals, laboratories, and from private consulting offices.

Almost all of their work comes from a referral source like a doctor or the hospital they work in.

Most radiologists will stay in the same role for most of their careers.

Others may move on to become department heads, or other supervisory positions within a hospital.

Some will move into other areas of healthcare which could include occupations such as:

  • Physician
  • Pharmacist
  • Medical researcher
  • Diagnostic medical sonographers
  • Nuclear medicine technologist
  • Radiation therapist
  • Cardiovascular technologist

Job prospects for radiologists are strong and with an aging population, only look to improve in the future.

The median salary for a radiologist is $330,000 a year.

Those that work in hospitals will usually earn less than those in private practice.

A radiologist working in an urban area could expect to earn more than someone in a rural area.

If you are interested in health care, and intrigued by the idea of nuclear medicine, then you might like to become a radiologist.

Although the path to get there is a long one, the job at the end is rewarding.

Employment prospects are only going to become stronger in the future.

Working conditions are good, and the average salary is very high.

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