A radiologist is a physician who has specialized in the field of radiology, which includes obtaining and interpreting medical images. According to Radiology Info statistics, 1.2 percent of all physicians specialize in the field of radiology. A radiologist must complete numerous years of specialized training in order to become certified in the field.
A radiologist may take images of a patient and read the results. If necessary, the radiologist will provide assessment for further treatment or consult other physicians. Not only do radiologists diagnose disease, but they also treat disease with radiation or image-guided surgery.
Radiology consists of numerous subspecialties that a radiologist may choose to specialize in. These can include breast imaging, cardiovascular radiology, chest radiology, emergency radiology, gastrointestinal radiology or genitourinary radiology. Other subspecialties include head and neck radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, neuroradiology, pediatric radiology or interventional radiology. Occasionally, physicians may choose to specialize in nuclear radiology or radiation oncology.
In order to become a radiologist, a person must endure rigorous education requirements. A medical degree from an accredited medical school is required. Four years of graduate medical school, or residency, in the specialty of radiology are required, as well as a year of internship. Following residency, prospective radiologists may opt to enter a fellowship program.
Besides education, internship and residency, a radiologist must be board certified by the American Board of Radiology or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology, depending on which field he chooses to purses. The licensing examination will allow the physician to be certified in the field of radiology.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians belong in the top-earner categories compared to all other occupations. Those who are self-employed tend to have higher incomes than salaried physicians. The median annual income of all specialty physicians, including radiologists, in 2008 was $339,738.
Rather than becoming a radiologist, a person may choose to become a radiologist assistant, who works directly with a radiologist. The assistant's duties are limited compared to a radiologist. A radiologic technologist typically works with a radiologist as well, and mainly assists the patient during the imaging. A radiologic nurse works directly with the patients and assists the radiologist during the examination.
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