A radiologist is a physician with a full medical and doctorate degree who reads, diagnoses, and treats the human body by using radioactive substances, x-rays, and other digital images of patients obtained through a variety of machines and imaging equipment. Radiologists have a very high level of knowledge about various medical imaging modalities and how to utilize findings in order to properly diagnose. The radiologist is the one who analyzes the findings and does the diagnoses while the Radiologic Technologist is the professional who specializes in the actual performance of the imaging techniques.
To become a Radiologist you must start by completing a bachelor’s degree, which will take four years. Then, you must complete medical school which usually takes another four years. After the formal education, you must complete a residency which will take an additional several years. Most M.D’s indicate that you should expect to be in a learning mode for an average of 12 years. And some radiologists choose to subspecialize that will add another year to the learning phase of their career.
Duties and Responsibilities
Radiologists examine patients, obtain medical history, diagnose illnesses based on imaging and related tests, and also recommend additional exams or treatment plans if necessary. They also administer radiopaque substances by injection, orally, or as enemas to render internal structures and organs visible on x-ray films or fluoroscopic screens. Radiologists are sometimes referred to as Radiographers because sometimes they create x-ray images of different parts of a patient’s body to help diagnose health problems or injuries. They also examine internal structures and functions of organ systems, making diagnoses after the correlation of x-ray findings with other examinations and tests. Often, radiologists work together with other physicians in order to use all the information and tools at their disposal while attempting to diagnose.
Radiologists must have a comprehensive understanding of the human anatomy, medicine, and scientific principles relating to human health just like most physicians. They should be technically savvy, as they will be working on a computer frequently, should be highly focused, and have excellent vision and analytical skills with a keen eye for details. They need to keep up to date with new techniques and technologies, for everything gets upgraded regularly. They must love challenges for being a radiologist is going to be challenging because there are always new things to learn about. Radiologists have to be flexible due to the nature of their work. They should be able to take a call from home and read scans on a computer linked into a hospital network.
Salary and Compensation
Radiology is one of the most lucrative medical specialties a physician can practice. They enjoy some of the highest salaries and best benefits of all physicians. Although being a radiologist is stressful, they have time to enjoy their salaries, as they have more vacation than most physicians, nearly twice the average.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Radiologists do not typically spend much time directly interacting with patients, unless they practice interventional radiology. Most radiologists spend the majority of their time in an office setting, interpreting images, reading reports, recording the results and diagnosis to be reviewed by treating physicians. Their work is collaborative and consultative, coordinating with the techs and allied health professionals who obtain the digital images, and also collaborating with other physicians. Sometimes they also have to travel in large vans equipped with advanced diagnostic equipment.