How to Become a Radiologist

Do you wish to know what kind of training and skills are required to become a radiologist? This article provides an insight into the requirements to enter this field.
A radiologist is a doctor who specializes in the branch of medicine that deals with the study and application of imaging technology, like X-rays and MRI scans, to diagnose diseases and conditions that affect the human body. Radiology is one of the most sought after branches in the field of medicine, and most people that manage to study this are the top-rankers in medical school (in top ten percentile). There are various job roles in this profession, namely a radiologist doctor, radiology assistant, and radiology technician.

Radiologist Doctor

Firstly, you need to enroll in college and take pre-med courses. While you're in college, maintain a high GPA. You'll need to get excellent grades, especially in science, so as to qualify for medical school. It's best if you do some kind of volunteer work in a hospital, as this will add value to your college application. Research on different medical schools and take the medical common admission test (MCAT). Once you complete the test, start applying to various medical schools.

You need to complete four years of medical school, after which there is a five-year postgraduate training, which is a residency program. In the first year of residency, you will be taught subjects in medicine, surgery, or both. After the first year, the remaining four years include diagnostic radiology training. During this period, there are two separate exams that need to be taken to get certified by the American Board of Radiology. After completion of the residency, you can either practice or enter into a fellowship program in one of the specialties. This normally takes anywhere between one to two years.

Radiology Technician

A radiology technician's job entails taking X-rays, developing them, properly handling the machinery that is provided, and maintaining patient records. One can choose a specialty like ultrasound, CT, MRI, etc. You can enroll for a two-year or four-year program in a technical school accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). You can get a job after an associates degree, or if you already have some experience, then you may need to attend only a one-year program. After this, you will need to get the required license, by passing the examination held by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Once you are certified, you can search for a job in a hospital, lab, or a clinic.

Radiology Assistant

Radiology assistants are registered individuals that have undergone certain training, due to which they can work under the supervision of radiologists. They may perform examinations and other related procedures on the patient under supervision. They play a vital role in patient management and evaluation. Basically, these professionals help to decrease the workload on the doctor by enabling him to concentrate on performing more advanced procedures. To become one, the prerequisite is to be certified as a radiographer. Then, you can enter a two-year or four-year program in radiologic sciences at a college. After that, you only need to pass the exam conducted by the ARRT to become certified. Each state has its own licensing requirements and procedures, therefore, you need to be state licensed in the place where you are planning to take up work. These professionals can be employed in hospitals or clinics.

It is said that radiology is one of the fastest growing branches of medical science, due to the introduction of newer diagnostic tools with the help of rapidly-changing technology. The career prospects in this field are very promising, as there is currently a shortage of these specialists in the United States.