Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Guest Post: How To Become A Radiologist

This post details all the steps necessary for a student to go on the journey towards becoming a practicing, board-certified radiologist in the United States:

How to Become a Radiologist

A radiologist is a physician who specializes in using a wide array of techniques that use advanced medical imaging to diagnose, and even sometimes treat, patients with a wide array of illnesses.

These specialists use the tools at their disposal to help them provide patients with the best possible skill and results. Some of the tools of the trade they have to assist them in diagnosing and sometimes helping to treat their patients include ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. Like any other physician, in order to be a radiologist, one must have completed medical school and have earned their MD degree.

Radiologists work in correlating the medical histories of their patients, as well as their lab values and exam findings, and their interpretations of the imaging, to aid both patients and their doctors to arrive at a proper and accurate diagnosis in a timely manner.

Today, there is an increasing subset of these specialists, called interventional radiologists. This type of radiologist performs surgical procedures using guidance of imaging techniques to minimize damage done to healthy tissues in the body.

Are you thinking of becoming a radiologist? If so, it’s important to know up front that the training can be competitive, long, and intense. However, the payoff of being able to help so many people makes the journey well worth the effort that it entails.

If you think this is a journey you’re ready to embark on, then you should first know what you’ll have to do to reach your goal. Here’s what it entails:

Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become a radiologist, you need to first go through the educational track. The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Before you enroll in any university to get a bachelor’s degree, ensure that it is an acceptable institution in the eyes of any medical school. With the help of the academic counseling center, you can get help in reviewing what different medical schools are looking for in an undergraduate degree program.

Take the MCAT (Medical Colleges Admission Test)

The MCAT test is a standardized, multiple choice exam that is administered in a period of four and a half hours. Before taking this test, it is advisable to review what will be on the exam and make sure you are well-versed in all the subject areas it covers. The skills and knowledge it tests include problem solving skills, critical thinking, fluency in social science concepts, and the knowledge needed to be able to study medicine effectively.

Become a Medical Doctor

In becoming a medical doctor, you have three options to choose between when it comes to deciding on the medical degree program that is right for you.

Get a Medical Degree (M.D.)

This focuses on the traditional diagnostic methods, as well as their treatments and medicinal therapies.

Become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

This profession focuses on caring for and studying the musculoskeletal system of the human body.

Become a Doctor of Philosophy with a Medical Degree

Many schools offer a combination degree that allows you to obtain a M.D. and a Ph.D. This gives you two career path options, and offers increased financial support as well as fast tracking your ability to get a medical degree. This is because many schools offer a 3-year M.D. program for Ph.D. graduates.

Declare a Radiology Specialty

The third and fourth years of medical school involve clinical rotations. Early in the fourth year, you should have an opportunity to declare your specialty in radiology.

Pass the USMLE or the COMLEX

These tests stand for the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX). It is necessary for any aspiring radiologist to pass one of these exams to be capable of practicing their profession.

Complete a 4-Year Residency Program in Radiology

The United States is home to about 218 radiology residency programs, which offer around 890 positions annually.

Become Board Certified

In order to get certified, check the requirements on the American Board of Radiology’s website. Certification exam times are available there, as well as information to become Board Certified in your subspecialty of choice.

Get a Job

Once you have done all this, you’re ready to become a radiologist! You’re completely certified and ready to take on the job and begin helping people. The final thing you need to do is apply to jobs until you find one suited to you. It’s a good idea to look at public and private hospitals, as well as staffing agencies, medical groups, private practices, and teleradiology groups, to find a job opening.

At this point, you might think that your education is over, but actually, you’ll have to keep taking radiology courses in order to stay up to date on the latest technology and trends in the industry.

Start Helping People!

The last thing you need to do is start doing your job! Enjoy being a radiologist and the rewards that come with the job, including being able to help countless patients stay or get healthy!

Toni May works for a radiology CME company.

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