Interventional radiology is used to diagnose and treat diseases and impairments that can be repaired through minimally invasive imaging techniques including MRI. This specialized profession in radiology requires a medical degree and licensing to practice. The field continues to show strong employment opportunities with good compensation for those interested in radiology as a treatment practice in medicine.
Who Is the Interventional Radiologist?
The interventional radiologist is a medical doctor who has completed four years of study in radiology and is board certified through the American Board of Radiology (ABR). Interventional radiologists work closely with other physicians and play an important role on the treatment team. Treating a broad range of medical conditions, interventional radiologists work with small precision instruments like catheters, wires, X-ray and imaging equipment to identify and treat disease. Today, there are about 4,000 interventional radiologists in the U.S., mainly practicing in academic medical centers and in larger community hospitals.
As an interventional radiologist, you will perform a variety of procedures in support of patient treatment in the hospital setting. In this function you can expect to perform minimally invasive procedures used to inspect and detect issues within vessels inside the body. Examples include angiographies, x-raying arteries and veins to detect blockages and narrowing of vessels that may contribute to poor blood circulation, and angioplasties using catheters and other tools to open up blockage areas within blood vessels. You may also perform treatments to assist patients with feeding, inserting feeding tubes into the stomach, or intravascular ultrasounds to visualize and detect problems within blood vessels. Additional duties may include performing needle biopsies, placing blood clot filters and cancer treatments.
Education and Certification
In order to become an interventional radiologist, you will need to acquire a medical degree from an accredited institution, pass your medical licensing exam and complete a five-year residency. Certification in interventional radiology ensures that licensed doctors are well practiced in diagnostic radiology as well as vascular interventional radiology. The certification is administered by the ABR and affords career credibility and patient assurance that you have achieved excellence in your profession, which should be considered if you wish to pursue private practice. Certification expires after ten years; after that period you are required to take a re-certification exam.
Average Salary Data
As of 2004, the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) indicated careers in diagnostic radiology are among the highest-paid specialties in the United States. Based on survey results, the AMGA found the median compensation for interventional radiologists was $410,250 with a 34 percent increase in median compensation since 2000. In analyzing gross charges, or the measure of a physician's productivity, the AMGA reported an increase of nearly 11 percent of gross charges from 2000 through 2003.
Salary Range Considerations
While careers in interventional radiology can be lucrative, there are some considerations for future salary projections. In 2005, the AGMA indicated little to no salary growth from data collected in 2004. Attributed to large talent growth in this specialty practice and heavy recruitment efforts in prior years, AGMA president and CEO Donald Fisher, PhD, C.A.E, noted these changes are likely linked to increased supply making an effort to meet the medical industry demand.
Salary Survey Findings
LocumTenens, a full-service physician and nurse recruiting firm based in Georgia, produces an annual compensation and employment survey. Radiology survey results in 2008 list annual wages for an interventional radiologist at $440,588. According to survey results, 56 percent of respondents indicated no increase in salary earnings from 2006 through 2007.
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