Have you thought about becoming a Radiologist? This career field is growing as the population ages. More people will need medical care and tests in the future. Radiologists play a key role in the diagnosis and treatment process.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2016, there were 713,800 Physicians, including Radiologists working in the US. The job outlook expects a 13% increase in jobs between 2016 and 2026. This represents 91,400 more jobs.
Keep reading to learn How to Become a Radiologist.
What Is a Radiologist?
Many people don’t know that a Radiologist first completes training as a medical doctor. With specialized training, the learn to perform and interpret medical images.
Radiologists work with many different types of medical imaging. This may include:
- Computed Tomography (CT Scan)
- Nuclear imaging including the use of radioactive substances
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
The radiologist may also obtain patients’ medical histories, diagnose illness and prescribe treatment.
Subspecialties in Radiology
Many radiologists choose to specialize further in one or more subspecialties. Examples include:
These specialists focus on diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of breast conditions and diseases. They use mammography, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI. They also perform breast procedures including breast biopsies.
This specialty performs diagnostic imaging to diagnose heart and circulatory system diseases. Tests used include X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI.
These radiologists use diagnostic imaging to diagnose diseases located in the chest. This includes problems with the heart and lungs. Tests performed may be X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, or MRI.
They also perform diagnostic procedures including lung biopsies. The Radiologist may drain fluid from the chest, called a thoracentesis.
This subspecialty works with trauma and non-traumatic emergency conditions. These Radiologists use X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI to make diagnoses.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Radiologists focus on GI or digestive tract and abdominal problems. They use fluoroscopy, X-rays, CT scan, ultrasound, and MRI. They perform biopsies as well as drainage of fluid and abscesses (a pocket of infected fluid).
These specialists focus on the reproductive and urinary systems. Their diagnostic imaging includes X-rays, CT scans, and MRI. They may perform biopsies, kidney stone removal, and uterine fibroid removal.
Head and Neck Radiology
Some radiologists choose to work with diseases of the head and neck. They use X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI to make their diagnoses.
These subspecialists use diagnostic imaging to diagnose muscle and skeletal system diseases and injuries. Their testing modalities include X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI.
Neuroradiologists focus on the brain, nervous system, head, neck, and spine. Their diagnostic imaging tests include X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI.
Pediatric Radiologists treat children. They use X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI to make diagnoses. They also perform procedures such as fluoroscopy, biopsy, and drainage of fluid or abscesses.
These Radiologists use imaging to diagnose and treat patients as well. Their focus lies in providing care with the least invasive techniques.
For example, they use radiologic images in the treatment of blood vessels. These procedures include angiography, angioplasty, and placement of stents in blood vessels.
They may also perform biopsies, place intravascular lines or tubes. These specialists remove uterine fibroids and drain collected fluid and abscesses. Their radiologic modalities include image-guided X-rays, fluoroscopy, CT scans, ultrasound, and MRI.
Nuclear Radiologists treat patients using trace levels of radioactive material. This allows them to create images of the heart, skeletal system, thyroid, and parathyroid glands, liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and other organs. They also perform gamma imaging, positron emission tomography (PET) and PET/CT scans.
These tests are important in the diagnosis of cancers and conditions such as hyperactive thyroid.
Radiation Oncologists work with the Oncologists. Together they develop a treatment regimen for patients with cancer.
Radiation treatments may be delivered from an external X-ray source. Some newer techniques involve placement or injection of the radiation into the body.
How to Become a Radiologist
An individual must first complete a bachelor’s degree and take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Next, you must be accepted into a medical school program. Medical school involves 2 years of coursework and 2 years of clinical rotations.
Radiology may not always be a regular rotation. If you wish to become a radiologist, you can do an elective rotation in this specialty.
After medical school, you must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Then you will seek acceptance into a Radiology Residency program. The Radiology Residency lasts 4 years.
The residency provides training in all major areas of radiology. You attend lectures and conferences as well as extensive clinical experience.
Finally, you must pass the American Board of Radiology (ABR) certification. Osteopathic Physicians are certified by the American Osteopathic College of Radiology or the American Board of Physician Specialties.
Required Continuing Education
The ABR requires all board-certified radiologists to complete 75 continuing medical education (CME) credits every 3 years. At least 25 of these CME credits must be from Self-Assessment (SA-CME) activities.
SA-CME activity requirements may be met in two ways.
Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs). Professional societies or other organizations may gain CME course approval from ABR. These modules may be podium presentations you watch and then complete a post-test.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) determines credit hours for each module.
Enduring AMA Category 1 CME offerings. An enduring activity is a CME certification that lasts for a specified time. These activities include:
- Print material
- Audio or video courses
- Internet materials including monographs and podcasts
- CD/DVD courses
- Archived webinars
You may only use activities that don’t contain a post-self-assessment for CME credit. You may also find companies online that offer CME and a combo e course.
The cost of these programs varies. Once again, any organization that offers CMEs, SAMs, or SA-CME programs must receive prior CME credit approval from ACCME.
Average Salary for a Radiologist
Medscape conducted a survey of 20,000 physicians from more than 30 specialties. Radiologists reported an average income of $401,000 per year. This includes salaries, bonuses, and profit-sharing contributions.
This survey also asked about job satisfaction. Among Radiologists, 89% reported very high job satisfaction. Fifty-one percent reported being satisfied with their job.
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