5 Important Things to Take Into Account Before Choosing a Profession of Diagnostic Radiologist
Have you ever heard people saying that they know somebody inside out? Radiologists literally know. If you dream about such a thrilling experience, then you might think about choosing this job.
Diagnostic radiology is in the list of the most needed professions nowadays. The employment rate for diagnostic radiologists is supposed to increase by 22%! And as a matter of fact, there are two main reasons for such a boom. The first one: world population is constantly growing and requires more healthcare specialists. The other reason is quite deplorable. Radiologist careers are at the peak of popularity because of an increase of number of patients with cancer.
Note that statistics shows that a diagnostic radiologist might earn up to about $293,010 per year. Not a bad salary, is it?
Are you interested in additional details? Here you are.
What does a radiologist do?
A radiologist is a healthcare specialist (a physician in fact) whose main responsibilities include getting and interpreting special medical images. The images he or she interprets are obtained with the help of x-rays (CT, radiographs, fluoroscopy), or sound waves (ultrasound), others - by means of special radioactive substances (nuclear medicine) or the natural magnetism of the human's body (MRI).
Additionally radiologists treat various diseases using radiation (nuclear medicine or radiation oncology) or interventional radiology (that is in fact a minimally invasive type of surgery).
To put it simple, diagnostic radiologist supervises technicians and technologists. He or she may examine medical images and look for any abnormalities, which may cause more or less serious symptoms of health issues. In addition they may need consultations of other healthcare professionals when understanding and interpreting medical images or with their patients about the result of their examination and interpretation.
How to become a radiologist?
If the radiologist job description offered above looks attractive for you, you may be interested in the radiologist education.
First of all, please note that the road to your successful diagnostic radiologist career is really long and requires additional stamina. Medicine is not so easy to study, so be prepared to find yourself buried in all kinds of science books at all times as medical students never have it as easy as any other students.
Like any physician, a radiologist has to graduate from any medical school with accreditation and earn an MD degree.
The list of the requirements a diagnostic radiologist must meet:
So, in order to get the profession of a certified radiologist one may need to pass a licensing examination, spend one year being an intern and complete a minimum of four years of medical education in radiology. Then, after the residency you may choose a program in order to specialize in one or several radiology areas.
The list of radiologist sub-specialties includes:
The radiologist who has chosen this subspecialty will deal with diagnoses of all types of chest diseases (heart and lungs diseases are the most common ones). The procedures he or she will use are: x-rays, Ultrasound, (CT), MRI and some additional chest procedures, like fluid drainage from the chest and lung biopsy.
In fact, breast imaging is a subspecialty that is dedicated to diagnosis of various breast tissue conditions and breast diseases. The basic procedures are: breast ultrasound, mammography and breast MRI (sometimes breast biopsy is also needed).
This radiology subspecialty is intended for diagnosis of heart and blood vessels diseases. The procedures required are: x-rays, MRI, computed tomography and ultrasound.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Radiology
This radiology subspecialty is devoted to the general diagnosis of illnesses of the digestive tract and abdomen. Among the required procedures there are: x-rays, fluoroscopy, MRI, computed tomography, Ultrasound, and additional GI procedures like biopsy, fluid drainage and drainage of abscess.
Genitourinary Radiologists deal both with diagnosis and treatment procedures of the reproductive system organs and urinary tract. They use the following procedures: x-rays, MRI, computed tomography, and kidney stone removal, biopsy, removal of uterine fibroid.
Radiology of Head and Neck
The diagnosis of any type of problem with the head and neck is the main responsibility of a radiologist who has chosen this specialty. The procedures they usually use are: Ultrasound, x-rays, computed tomography and MRI.
Any brain, spine and nerves diseases might be diagnosed by a neuroradiologist. He or she will need the procedures of x-rays, MRI, Ultrasound and computed tomography to get medical images.
If you choose this subspecialty of radiology, your responsibility will be a diagnosis of the skeleton and muscles. The procedures required include: Ultrasound, x-rays, computed tomography, and of course MRI.
Diagnosis of trauma and various conditions that are non-traumatic but emergency is the specialty of emergency radiologists. For diagnosis they mainly use: MRI, computed tomography, x-rays, Ultrasound.
Pediatric radiologists adore children and may have a calling for this subspecialty as it is devoted to general diagnosis of children diseases. Almost all usual procedures that are used for adults may be used for children: Ultrasound, MRI, x-rays, computed tomography, fluid drainage, fluoroscopy, and biopsy or collections of abscess.
Generally, interventional radiology is used for diagnosis and patients treatment by means of special interventional techniques that are minimally invasive. It includes blood vessels treatment, line and tube placement, biopsy procedures, removal of uterine fibroid, fluid drainage and abscess drainage, etc.
This subspecialty is devoted to cancer treatment with small portions of radiation. The radiation is obtained from an outside source of x-rays or sometimes they use injections into the body.
The procedures of the patients' treatment with small doses of some radioactive material are a part of a nuclear radiologist's job. The imaging modalities may include PET, gamma imaging and, in addition, PET/CT.
Basic requirements for schools with radiology programs:
Before choosing any school with a diagnostic radiology program you should check two things:
When it comes to schools with radiology programs, Yale University is widely known as the best one in the USA.
The first thing to mention is that most diagnostic radiologists spend the major part of their time in their offices. They read reports and interpret medical images, record their results and diagnoses that will be later reviewed by other physicians.
So, radiologists, unlike most other types of physicians, usually do not spend their days directly interacting with patients. The only exception is interventional radiology specialists. However, the interpersonal skills are still amazingly helpful to diagnostic radiologists, as some parts of their work are collaborative and consultative. They will need to coordinate with technicians and other healthcare professionals who are in charge of getting digital medical images, and also collaborate with other physicians, doctors, nurses (some of your patients might need nursing).
Of course, a radiologist, like any other physician, must have deep knowledge of the anatomy of the human's body and all medical and scientific principles that are related to the human health. And additionally, radiologists are required to be technically savvy because they will work with a computer on a regular basis. Other requirements a radiologist must meet are: excellent vision, analytical skills and attention to details.
How much does a radiologist make?
If you manage to get a diagnostic radiologist education, all your efforts will be adequately rewarded as radiology is reported to be in the list of the most profitable professions. We'd like to mention that according to the statistics data, general diagnostic radiologist salary is on average $470,939. And an interventional radiologist salary is higher - up to $507,508 as they have to complete additional fellowship training.
You will find that radiologists are demanded in different areas: including general hospitals and private practices, medical research area, companies that manufacture equipment, state governments, and certainly different colleges and universities.
By the way, note that radiologic doctors earn high salaries, even when they are at the beginning of their careers. However, please remember that geographical location, your place of work, personal experience, level and quality of your medical education contribute to your salary rate.
Benefits of the career of a radiologist
Generally, physicians opt for diagnostic for a number of considerable reasons. Among the important advantages of this profession there are:
Now you have enough information to get an overall image of the diagnostic radiologist profession.
If you choose this profession, you will have to spend many years in radiology school. You will have to go through long-term training. You will have to become responsible, hard-working and diligent. And you will get a high salary and long vacation as a reward for all the stresses, responsibilities and efforts. However, please think twice before making such an important choice as you should have real passion for this field.