How to Become a Radiologist

A radiologist is a highly trained medical professional who performs and interprets diagnostic testing utilizing radiographic technologies and medical equipment. Radiologists perform a variety of tests including x-rays, CAT scans, ultrasounds, nuclear medicine scans, and other medical procedures and tests. Radiologists use a variety of radiological tests to diagnose and treat diseases, disorders, or injuries. Radiologist also often can specialize to safely administer radiation or radiologic testing to perform radiation oncology, inverventional radiology, or image guided surgery.

Preparation for a career as a radiologists begins long before formal educational training. Individuals who possess a natural inclination toward learning is an absolute requirement as most radiologist training programs require a 15 year time investment. Individuals who possess a sympathetic, compassionate, and insightful nature who are inherently scientifically inclined find success as a radiologist. Good communication skills, computer literacy, and physical stamina combined the ability to work long hours are also often personal attributes of a future radiologist.

Preparation for a career as a radiologist can begin during high school. Students who study courses like communications, health, English, physical education, chemistry, and mathematics can advance easily to higher degree programs. Students who volunteer in health care facilities and at hospitals may have an advantage in terms of college acceptance. Most radiologists are required to earn a doctoral degree in medicine to qualify for employment. Acceptance into an accredited college degree programs through the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology assures future educational and professional success. Candidates with the professional goal of becoming a radiologist may begin with a two year program in a health care related field or liberal arts degree. Students with the career goal of becoming a radiologist prepare by taking accredited courses in communications, computer science, biology, chemistry, and psychology. Students then advance studies during their second year with specialized courses in radiologic technology, mathematics, radiographic procedures, methods of patient care, principles of radiographic exposure, anatomy and physiology, radiation physics, radiation protection, principles of imaging, medical terminology, positioning of patients, medical ethics, and radiobiology.

Upon completion of course studies, students can advance to higher degree programs or participate in voluntary certification exams through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART). To maintain the AART certification, individuals must complete a mandatory continuing education requirement every two years. Students who complete degree and certification requirements may work as radiologic technicians or continue studies to meet the professional goal of radiologist.

A bachelor degree program in radiology allows students access to advanced degree programs and to meet personal or professional goals. A bachelor degree program in radiology consists of specialized training to prepare individuals to administer radiation treatments or diagnostic tests to patients while maintaining accurate records. A bachelor degree program in radiology generally includes courses to train individuals to safely use radiation including radiation safety and protection techniques, applied anatomy and physiology, onocologic pathology, radiation oncology, treatment planning, patient commmunication and management, data collection, record keeping, legal aspects of health care administration, ethics in health care, and quality in health care administration. Students who successfully complete educational requirements may voluntarily certify through administered examinations offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Candidates then may gain employment in higher paying supervisory or administrative radiology technicians or continue studies to higher degree programs.

A master degree program in radiographic science allows an individual to expand upon previously earned degrees and further career goals. A master degree program in radiology generally consists of a combination of course work and clinical experience in the form of an internship. Courses generally focus on specializing knowledge through intensive studies including: ethics of patient care, computer technology, anatomy and pharmacology courses, health physics, patient assessment, interventional procedures, radiobiology, pathophysiology, health care administration, and completion of a clinical internship under the supervision of a qualified radiologist. Students who complete course work and internship requirements may certify through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART). Individuals must also recertify every two years after completing continuing education requirements. Graduates from a masters degree program can gain employment as supervisors, chief radiologic technologists, and department administrators or advance to doctoral degree programs.

A doctoral degree as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Ostepathy (D.O.) allows candidates to become experts in the field of radiologic medicine. A doctoral degree program combines extensive coursework usually consisting of a four year time investment, with two years of course work followed by two years of clinical experience. Most medical schools and university programs require further residency programs specifically focused upon the field of radiology. Courses include anatomy and physiology, infectious disease, pathology, patient care, and a publishable dissertation. Medical school residency programs allow students to complete a clinical rotation, observe areas of specialty, and complete studies regarding the theories, tools, and techniques of radiological studies. Students in doctoral degree programs learn how to utilize computed tomography, xrays, MRI and fMRI, flouroscopy, and diagnose or treat using radioactive medicines and equipment. Successfully passing the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is generally required before embarking upon a doctoral degree. Successfully completing an accredited doctoral program including coursework, dissertation, and residency requirements, allow individuals the ability to perform in top universities, health care facilities, and as researchers as radiologists. Candidates who successfully earn a MD or OD in radiological science also direct and surpervise radiology technologists or other health care personnel to operate radiological equipment.

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