The interpretation of medical images, such as those obtained from X-rays, CT and MRI investigations, is crucial for the diagnosis process. Without the insight of a radiologist, providing an efficient treatment plan that specifically answers a patient’s needs, would be impossible.
That’s why radiologists play an essential role in the healthcare sector.
What does a radiologist do?
A radiologist is a medical doctor who uses imaging technologies to provide useful information that could not be obtained through a physical exam.
After putting together a radiology report and determining the diagnosis, radiologists are also tasked with developing a treatment plan that answers the patient’s individual needs. They can also recommend further testing if they think they can gain a more comprehensive overview.
Where can radiologists find work?
Radiologists can work in any medical setting where patients come for diagnoses—from hospitals to private clinics, and even in academic institutions or government agencies.
Nowadays, they can perform tasks such as the interpretation of images, remotely, with the help of teleradiology software. This change does not only improve productivity, but it also boosts morale.
Which are the most common positions in radiology?
Radiology offers plenty of career paths to those who are interested in this field. The opportunity to pursue various interests is what makes this job truly fulfilling and rewarding. Some of the most common positions in the medical imaging field are:
- Diagnostic Radiologist
- Consultant Radiologist
- Radiology Technician
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist
- Computer Tomography (CT) Technologist
- Medical Radiation Technologist
- Special Producer Technologist
What imaging techniques can a radiologist perform?
To reach a correct diagnosis, plenty of information is needed. Patients can provide details about the intensity of the symptoms they’ve been experiencing, but there are some things that they cannot see without undergoing an imaging exam.
A radiologist uses a wide range of imaging techniques to diagnose medical conditions that patients may be affected by, such as:
- Computed Tomography
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Positron Emission Tomography
- Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography
How does a normal day of a radiologist look like?
In general, the normal day can be described as fast-paced and challenging, but also rewarding.
That’s because the job entails much more than reviewing and interpreting images: Radiologists have to consult with other healthcare providers and collaborate with colleagues to make sure the patients receive the best care for the medical condition they’re dealing with.
Depending on the area they’ve specialised in, some of them have to perform procedures like biopsies to diagnose and treat patients. One of the subspecialties of radiology is interventional radiology, which focuses on performing minimally invasive techniques.
Many radiologists work 40 hours a week.
What level of education is required?
In the UK, the first priority of those who want to become radiologists is to pursue a programme accredited through the General Medical Council (GMC). Relevant subjects include biology, chemistry, and physics.
But those who have a degree in a subject other than medicine can take a four-year accelerated programme, also known as a graduate entry programme.
After earning a medical degree, registering with the GMC allows people to work as doctors in training. This is followed by a two-year programme known as a Foundation Training Programme where the main goal is to gain experience.
Junior doctors can apply for full registration as physicians through the GMC after completing their first year of training.
This is the stage where physicians can choose a specialisation—depending on the areas they’re most interested in exploring. The training takes five years to complete, except for those who wish to specialise in interventional radiology, which requires one extra year of training.
The final step in the process of becoming a radiologist is passing the examination for the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) which will grant them the Certificate of Completion of Training. This allows them to register with the GMC as clinical radiologists.
Radiology is a field that is constantly evolving and changing. Thus, education doesn’t end with becoming a clinical radiologist. New software tools can improve the accuracy of diagnosis, so radiologists have to keep up with technology to make sure their patients get the best care.
Which skills are needed?
Apart from analytical skills, which are crucial in the process of interpreting images, a radiologist also needs to have communication, problem-solving, and technical skills.
Most of the patients who are going to undergo an imaging exam are in a vulnerable position because they don’t know what to expect, which can be a huge source of stress.
That’s why radiologists must show compassion and empathy during their interactions. Even if the diagnosis is not looking great, the way in which the news is delivered can have a great impact.
Time management skills can also help relieve the anxiety of patients as radiologists deliver the results in a timely manner, which allows them to take the required measures.
Regarding problem solving skills, if issues are fixed as soon as they occur, then radiologists can provide high-quality results as soon as they have a clear overview of the patient’s state of health.
What’s the average salary in radiology?
Here is one example: The average salary of a radiologist in London/UK is £72,921 per year. This estimated sum can be greatly influenced by the area of radiology in which a person chooses to specialise in.
Experience, geographic location, certifications, and demand for services are all factors that can influence the salary of a radiologist. Academic achievements are not overlooked either. As specialists gain more experience in the field, they can expect better salaries as well.
Finally, a radiologist plays an essential role in the healthcare sector by providing useful information regarding a patient’s state of health. Those who choose to follow a career path in this field can explore many of their interests—thanks to the versatile character of radiology.
Being a radiologist can be as difficult as it can be fulfilling.
📷 Photo credits: daniela-mueller.com