Are you looking for an exciting career in medicine? Do you want flexibility in terms of your hours and locations? Have you ever thought about becoming a radiologist?
Radiologists are some of the highest-paid physicians. They also enjoy more vacation time than most doctors do. And recent years have seen an increase in demand for careers in medical imaging.
Here’s what you need to know about how to become a radiologist.
What Does a Radiologist Do?
Radiologists are trained medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease and injuries using medical imaging. Technology may include X-Rays, MRIs, PET’s, and ultrasounds.
Radiologists act as expert consultants to your referring physicians. They can help them choose the proper tests, interpret medical images, and use test results to recommend care and treatment.
Radiologists are also experts in treating diseases through radiation or interventional radiology, which is a minimally invasive therapy. They can also correlate the findings on your images with other exams and tests. Radiologists require a high level of education so they can apply the proper expertise to their diagnoses.
1. Bachelor’s Degree
Like that of all doctors, a radiology career begins with a bachelor’s degree. You should focus on courses that are prerequisites for medical school. These include general chemistry, biology, English, and physics.
Those students who want to go on to med school should begin applying during their junior year of college. You will need to pass the Medical College Admissions Test, also known as the MCAT. In order to get accepted, you’ll need strong GPAs, above-average MCAT scores, and excellent letters of recommendation.
2. Medical School
Radiologists must next attend medical school for four years. Their first two years will involve classroom learning about subjects like anatomy, biochemistry, and human behavior.
The second half of a radiology program involves clinical rotations. You’ll do hands-on work in a variety of fields. These include surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics.
Your rotations will give you an excellent survey of the type of work you’ll be doing as a radiologist. You’ll get to work in hospitals, clinics, and in-patient and out-patient facilities.
In order to get your M.D., you’ll need to complete the United States Medical Licensing Examination, also known as the USMLE. Your score must be above average if you’re planning to pursue a career in radiology.
As an M.D., you’ll need to have real experience before you’re allowed to fully practice medicine. Those pursuing radiology will become paid interns who work in hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms.
After their first year interning, residents can begin to work specifically in radiology. You will learn how to interpret images, make diagnoses, and design treatment plans. Altogether, an internship and residency last four years.
Believe it or not, you’ll probably be doing a bit more training even after your residency is over. Fellowship programs allow you to get trained in a specialized sub-field of radiology. These could include nuclear radiology, pain medicine, or pediatric radiology.
The majority of radiologists do at least one fellowship. They last for about a year or two.
5. Licensing, Certifications, and Continuing Education
You’ll need to take your board certification exams in order to become fully licensed to practice in your state. These will be both written and oral. Once you have completed a fellowship, you can also take additional exams in order to become certified in your specialty.
Many radiologists and technicians continue taking radiology courses throughout their career in order to stay knowledgeable in the latest technology available.
What Are the Benefits of a Career in Radiology?
Radiology is becoming an increasingly popular field in medicine. It allows you to work in a variety of environments, including your home.
Radiology will allow you to work in many different medical specialties and with patients of every age group. You could work in out-patient facilities, emergency rooms, or private practices.
Radiologists spend much of their time reading and interpreting scans. If you find working with patients and relatives taxing, radiology is a career that allows you to limit patient contact. It can be a great option for specialists who have more introverted personalities.
What Skills Do You Need for a Radiology Career?
Not everyone can become a radiologist. The years of study required to become a medical doctor require discipline, focus, and tremendous dedication.
Radiologists need to have strong attention to detail, as well as the ability to work as part of a team of specialists. Remember that, while your patient contact will be limited, you’ll be working a lot with other professionals and you’ll need to be able to collaborate.
You’ll also be required to think critically and have excellent communication skills. In addition, you’ll need to have practical skills and a good level of dexterity in order to properly operate machinery.
As technology continues to improve, the technical aspects of the field of radiology will change. A good radiologist will be willing to continually learn and grow. They will want to have an intimate knowledge of new technology so they can be at the top of their field and provide patients with the best quality healthcare possible.
How to Become a Radiologist
A career in radiology has many advantages, including excellent pay, flexibility, and learning opportunities. If you’re wondering how to become a radiologist, start by researching schools that have excellent science programs. Your college education, medical school, residency, and fellowship will all give you valuable knowledge and experiences that you can take anywhere.
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