Like nearly every other medical- and health-related position, radiologists are now in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of radiology and MRI technology will grow by 21 percent over the next decade.
Becoming a radiologist is no easy task. Those who study hard, complete their education and obtain the necessary certifications will enjoy a stable and rewarding career in the medical imaging field.
What It Takes: Education
The first step towards becoming a radiologist is to complete a bachelor’s degree in radiological sciences. There are many online schools for radiology, which can be especially beneficial for working professionals who are looking for a career change.
The radiology degree program includes a variety of medicine, science and technology classes, including anatomy, medical terminology, MRI imaging and more. Make sure the school you choose for your radiology education is certified by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and is regionally accredited.
Once you’ve completed your four year degree (or during your education), the next step is to get an internship at a local medical treatment facility. During your one year internship, you’ll be working directly under an experienced radiology supervisor who will give you regular evaluations and determine whether or not you’re ready for residency status.
The internship can be especially difficult for those who have no professional experience in the medical field. Spend a significant amount of time studying medical terminology and general medical facility processes before you begin your internship.
After you’ve completed your internship, you’ll need to apply for residency at a local hospital. Radiology residencies normally last four years and consist of extensive work in diagnostic radiology departments.
While many radiology residents have a desire to be cross-trained in another process such as mammograms or MRI examinations, residency supervisors and state licensing boards require that radiology residents complete their entire four years within a diagnostic radiology department.
During the course of your residency, you’ll have to take several exams administered by the American Board of Radiology. The exams include a written exam, a physical exam and an oral exam.
The first two exams are computer-based and are administered to the resident in the third year of their residency. The final exam is given to the resident 18 months later.
The time commitment and education that is required to become a radiologist is very similar to what is required for doctors. Students need a good work ethic throughout the entire process, especially when preparing for the exams. It’s important to remember that, once someone becomes a full-fledged radiologist, they must maintain their certification with the American Board of Radiology and keep up-to-date on any new procedures or technological tools that become available.