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Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree followed by four years of medical school. A five-year internship in radiology is necessary to complete the training.
Average Salary: $403,488
Job Outlook: Excellent

Job Description

A major part of a radiologist’s work is to perform and interpret the different types of scans of a patient’s body. These scans can include a CT scan, PET scans, mammography, ultrasound and MRI scans. These scans are important for diagnosing medical problems and determining the best course of treatment. They are generally ordered by other physicians who will refer their patients to see a radiologist. Radiologists can diagnose just about any problem within the human body, and must have a comprehensive understanding not only of the human anatomy, but also of the medical and scientific principles involved in human health.

Most radiologists do not perform the scans themselves but rely on technicians to create the image. They will then examine and interpret the image, and will diagnose the patient’s problem. A radiologist can also be responsible for communicating with the patient about their diagnosis, and can explain their options for treatment.

However some radiologists work in imaging centers and are consultants for other doctors who refer patients to them. In these cases a radiologist will make the diagnosis and will then communicate their findings with the doctor who referred the patient, who is then responsible for communicating the findings to the patient.
It’s not unusual for radiologists to never see a patient in person, and to merely know them through their scans, images, and medical histories.

Education and Training Requirements

Anyone thinking about becoming a radiologist should complete a premed program, or should ensure they take classes that will allow them to apply for medical school. The education and training for a radiologist is similar to that of a medical doctor, as it is necessary to complete medical school and become a licensed medical doctor. Having successfully completed medical school, radiologists must do a five-year internship. All radiologists are certified by either the American Board of Radiology, or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology.

Getting the Job

While the job prospects are excellent, as there is always a higher demand than supply, the job requirements are quite stringent. The training is extremely long, and it will be quite some time before you can apply for your first job. Before you finish your training you will have to complete a residency or internship, during which time you’ll be supervised by a more experienced doctor, and you should do at least one year of fellowship training for your specialization. This will greatly increase your chances of getting the job you really want, as it will show you have the necessary knowledge to treat patients in your chosen field.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

It’s estimated that the prospects for radiologists are excellent. There is expected to be considerable growth in the number of jobs available over the next decade or so. More and more people are likely to require diagnostic treatment from radiologists as medical treatments and technology allow people to live longer. Advancements in imaging technology have made it easier for radiologists to accurately diagnose a problem in a very non-invasive way.

Radiologists can choose to work in private practice or for a hospital, or they may choose to do a mixture of the two. They can also specialize, as some are interventional radiologists who give treatment rather than just diagnose by interpreting films and scans. Others can choose to specialize in nuclear medicine, pediatric radiology, or diagnostic radiology.

Working Conditions and Environment

Much of a radiologist’s time is spent in an office environment interpreting scans and images. Unlike the majority of medical professions, most radiologists enjoy very regular working hours and are unlikely to be on call for emergencies during the middle of the night or at weekends. The majority of imaging clinics or practices are only open Monday to Friday.

Salary and Benefits

Radiologists are extremely highly paid and have an average salary of at least $403,488, and for those who work full-time it may be as high as $1 million. They also enjoy long vacations with an average of 8 to 12 weeks per year, which is nearly twice the average of most other physicians.

Where to Go for More Information

American Board of Radiology
5441 East Williams Blvd., Ste. 200
Tucson AZ 85711
(520) 790-2900

American College of Radiology
1891 Preston White Dr.
Reston, VA 20191
(703) 648-8900

American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(800) 621-8335

Radiological Society of North America
820 Jorie Blvd.
Oak Brook, IL 60523-2251
(630) 571-2670

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