What is a radiologist?
This is a medical professional who will interpret medical images like x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRI’s for a physician and other medical professionals. Once everything has been interpreted the radiologist will send the information to the physician who ordered these diagnostic images so the physician will know what is wrong with their patient so they can formulate a treatment plan for that patient.
Job description of a radiologist
Depending on where they are working they may also have a radiation technician working with them who will actually do the imaging tests and then give the diagnostic imaging to the radiologist to interpret. Once this is done the radiologist will share the findings with the primary care physician so they can decide what action needs to be taken. In some cases the physician may ask the radiologist for their advice and take it into consideration.
If it is a small clinic or hospital the radiologist may do all of the tasks from doing the diagnostic imaging to interpreting the image to sending the report to the physician. You will also be taught how to use the equipment like an x-ray machine, an ultrasound, CT scan machine, and MRI machine. There are times where a patient will have to ingest different substances in order to help the radiologist and physician figure out the diagnosis. One of these substances that a patient might have to ingest is barium or have a die injected into their blood stream to see if there are any blood clots or if there are arteries that are blocked going to or from your heart.
Being a radiologist another one of your jobs may be to inject radioactive tracers into the patient so that when images are taken you can see the nervous system and how the blood is flowing. This is called nuclear medicine because you are using radioactive materials. One of the downsides to being a radiologist you may never actually interact with the patient if there is a radiology technician taking the diagnostic images.
There are also many different fields that a radiologist may specialize in like:
- Interventional radiologist—this is where the radiologist has more of a hands-on approach where they will do minor medical procedures with the guidance of different radiology equipment. One example is amniocentesis done with the help of an ultrasound machine
- Therapeutic radiologist—in this specialized field you are trained how to use radioactive agents in the treatment of the disease. Generally if you are this type of radiologist you will have a specialty in a different branch of medicine called radiation oncology.
How to become a radiologist?
A radiologist is a type of doctor which means that to become one there are many years of schooling and training before you can become a practicing radiologist. It is advisable that while in high school that you take advanced courses in math and science to help you better understand the advanced coursework that a radiologist will have to take. In college you should also take advanced-level classes in chemistry, physics, anatomy, and biology although you can become a radiologist even if you do not major in science but it can be helpful for the next step which is medical school. You should also take some classes in communicating and writing as both of these will help in your career choice.
After getting your bachelor’s degree in science or the major you choose you will have to apply to medical school. Before being accepted you will have to take the Medical College Admission Test. In the first 2 years of medical school you will concentrate on classroom and laboratory work and the last 2 years doing clinical rotations. During the 4 years of medical school you will have to take 2 United States Medical Licensing Examinations given by the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Once you have graduated from medical school you will have a Medical Doctor’s license. You will also have to go into a medical or radiology internship after medical school. During the first year you will have to complete a final medical licensing examination. Most residencies will take 3 – 5 years to finish. During year 1 of residency you will be taught subjects in surgery, medicine, or both. The last part of your residency you will have diagnostic radiology training. During this time you will have to take exams to receive certification in radiology oncology and diagnostic radiology. The certification exams will be administered by the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) and the American Board of Radiology (ABR). If you want to specialize in any field of radiology you will have to complete a 2 year fellowship after residency.
How to be certified in these two fields are:
- Diagnostic radiology—for this certification you will need to pass written and oral exams. There are 4 steps that must be completed to be certified. 1) Within the year 1 of training you can apply for cognitive exams that are computer based. 2) In year 2 you can take the physics exam. 3) In year 3 you take the clinical exam. 4) After passing both of the written exams you can take the oral exam in year 5.
- Radiology oncology—for this certification you will also have to pass written and oral exams. A board certified radiology oncology group or professional will administer the oral exam. During year 3 you will take certification exams in cancer, biology, and physics. In the year 4 you will take the clinical exam and in year 5 you will take the oral exam.
The certification for being a diagnostic radiologist has a time constraint of 10 years and during this time frame you have to constantly expand your knowledge. After 7 years you will have to pass a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) to be re-certified. .
Some of the subspecialties that a radiologist can do their fellowship in are:
- Breast imaging
- Neuro radiology
- Emergency radiology
- Radiation oncology
- Chest radiology
- Pediatric radiology
The top 2 schools to attend to become a radiologist are:
- University of Washington, Seattle Campus
- University of California in San Francisco
Work environment and schedule
Usually most radiologists work in outpatient centers, in a group practice where they will do diagnostic imaging for the entire group of physicians, and hospitals but because of digital advancements all they need to have is a high resolution screen on their laptop or computer and internet access and they can work anywhere. Radiologists will usually not have a private practice but will work for someone. According to research that has been done many radiologists choose to work in a hospital where they will do non-invasive procedures in order to look at the tissues, blood vessels, organs, and bones.
Unless they are the ones who are doing the diagnostic images they will have limited patient contact. They will analyze and interpret these diagnostic images to help formulate possible diagnosis instead. Although radiologists do not provide any treatment they do work together with other medical professionals. If you are not doing the diagnostic images but just interpreting them you would have a pretty flexible schedule because you can interpret the diagnostic images anywhere as long as the computer or laptop is connected to the hospital network.
If you are a radiologist who takes the diagnostic images and interprets them you may have a rotating shift, work days, nights, and/or weekends. You may also be on-call or work 12 hour shifts. The reason is that when you are doing both jobs you will need to be available when an x-ray, CT scan, MRI scans, etc is needed. Any of these could be needed when there is an accident or injury in the emergency room. What hours you would work would depend on who your employer is.
Some of the things that a radiologist might do can include:
- Read the reports and diagnostic images and record the results so the physician can review the results
- Help diagnosis what is wrong with the patient by taking the images and interpret them.
- Working alongside medical professionals when they are administering treatment.
- Examine the patients and record their medical histories
- At times they can prescribe medication and carry out the duties of a regular doctor.
- When doing a diagnostic image they will make sure that the patient removes any items that the x-rays cannot pass through.
- They make sure that the patient and themselves are protected from any unnecessary radiation exposure by decreasing the size of the x-ray beam or using lead shields.
- They make sure that the radiology equipment is working and in excellent condition.
- They will also need to keep tract of patient records and record in them what digital imaging was done and the results, along with the date it was done and the medical professional who order the diagnostic imaging done.
Pros and cons of being a Radiologist
Before applying to any career in the health care system, you should inform upon the pros and cons. Being a Radiologist is not a job that misses these, so here are some pros and cons in this area. In Radiology you’ll have a fixed schedule, you’ll start your working hours from 9a.m. and you’ll finish them up at 5p.m., without any ward rounds.
You’ll have to do training and the best news is that once you are in you’ll have a number of trainings with an established date when you CCT. The future of this path is very safe with the number for scanning increasing the world of medicine is always on a huge need for Radiologists.
Your training is not too demanding. As a Radiologist, you’ll have a senior that will look into the work that you did and in the end he will leave feedback on how everything that you did looks like. Throughout your training, you’ll be doing the things that a consultant radiologist is supposed to be doing, without any paperwork to be done.
Your information on scanning can also be obtained on the internet sites. If you want to know what you should look on a scan or what a scanning is looking you can find these amazing sites that will help you a lot.
Since in the healthcare system things are many times all about experience, in Radiology you can pick one scan and refill all your gaps again. There are many interesting cases that are saved and place in the archive for you so you could check them up later. In this way, you can gain a huge amount of experience and expertise.
Working as a Radiologists had its cons regarding the fact that you are exposed many times to radiations, and the risks exist even though you take all the precaution measurements. The amount of responsibility, which you are dealing with is very huge and if you missed something you can really harm a person life, so your report must be very accurate and complete.
You’ll have to take many exams, and there are not as easy to pass. Working with other healthcare specialists can sometimes rise confrontations from various points of views. With your job, many people will assume that you know everything. That was true in the early times, but you’ll sometimes be pushed over boundaries to give advice on a scan that is not in your expertize, or it’s not in your knowledge.
Radiologist job growth
The employment rate for job growth of radiologists for the next five to ten years has and a projection of 8%-9%. This projection of the growth rate is due to a constant increase in the health and medical conditions that are need for imaging as a tool in order to establish diagnoses.
The employment job prospects for Radiologists have a good and continuous rate of increase, even though it’s slowly. The nature of this job has an impact in the medical field due to the elderly population that is more than ever in need for these specialists, given the fact that they are more inclined to suffer from heart diseases or cancer, or other diseases.
The average yearly salary of a radiologist depends on many different factors such as where they are employed, how many years of experience they have, if they specialized, geographical location, etc.
Here are the average yearly radiologist salaries according to where they work.
- $77.000 – $336,000 working in a hospital
- $83,000 – $338,000 working healthcare
- $93,000 – $331,000 working in a medical office
- $96,000 – $345,000 working in an acute care hospital
The top 3 states to work in as a radiologist with the average yearly salary are:
- $454,000 in New York
- $355,000 in California
- $310,000 in Texas
The 3 lowest states to work in as a radiologist with average yearly salary of a little more than $200,000 are Nevada, Georgia, and Alabama.
When deciding where to seek employment and the geographical location you need to take into consideration the benefit package. Although each employer may add something special to their benefit package to make it more appealing to job seekers there are some general things that are included in most benefit packages. Most offer paid vacation, paid sick days, personal days, life and health insurance that cover the employee and may include their family, malpractice insurance, vision and dental insurance, profit sharing, social security, retirement, and 401K. Some employers may offer a stipend for using their own personal computer to do their work. If they work overtime, work a 12 hour shift, or work nights they may also get a shift deferential on their pay check.
Being a radiologist in the United States the average yearly radiologist salary in the upper 10% are making as much as $486,000 and the lowest 10% are making as much as $270,000.
Salary of a Radiologist in 2015
The yearly salary in the US for a Radiologist can reach an average of about $216,567 per year. The wage is mainly influenced by factors that involve the geographical location, the gender, your work experience in the field and the years that are found behind it, and the board certification.
In 2015, the salary for one of these professionals is influenced by the same factors and the job outlook is very good conceding to the number of demands that is rising daily.
Radiologist Salary in 2016
In the US, the year 2016 brings great earnings figures for professionals working as radiologists. On the low point in the economic status of radiologist salaries, the figures are presented to be around $103,045 per year. The top paying point in the salaries of these professionals gets around $467,010 per year.
The final amount of earnings can include in addition bonuses that can climb up to $98,010 per year and profit sharing that usually can be comprised between $9,870 and up to $128,197 per year. The main factor that affects the salaries for this particular group is the demographic factor-the location, followed by the years of experience in the field. Other factors that affect the earnings of radiologists and that must be taken into considerations are training and expertise.
When it comes to the years of experience those who work less than five years in the field can expect at a median income of $253,100 per year while those who already have more than five years of work in the field and up to ten years can expect to take home as much as $294,100 per year. With 10 and up to 20 years in the field, radiologists can expect at a median income that goes around $322,100 per year but the veterans in this branch cannot say the same thing, their income reaching only at $320,010 per year.
Each state or city has various and different incomes that are mainly influenced and decided by the cost of living, demand, the quality of health care and the living expenses. The best paying radiologist jobs are current in San Francisco that has an above the average paying rate with up to 34%-35%. Good salaries for these professionals can be found also in Denver or Philadelphia.
At the other end the lowest paying rate for radiologists is to be found in Miami, with a percentage of 30%-31% that is below the national average. Other regions where the companies pay below the median salaries are to be found in Chicago and San Diego.
The highest salaries for radiologists are payed in New-York, due to the healthcare facilities that are considered in the US to be the best. Similar salaries on the same page with a high level of healthcare and costs of living that are higher are to be found in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. .
Radiologist salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- Canada—the average yearly radiologist salary is C$30,201 – C$199,553 with a yearly bonus ranging from C$267.50 – $62,500
- Australia—here a radiologist is called a radiographer. The average yearly salary is AU$60,000 – AU$196,527 with a yearly bonus ranging from AU$ 1,965 – AU$15,000
- UK—here the radiologist is also known as a radiographer. The average yearly salary for radiologist is based on their age. If you are in your 20’s you could earn up 76,056, if you are in your 30’s you can earn up to 110,000, and if you are in your 40’s or 50’s you could earn up to 129,033
Conclusion on radiologist salary
To become a radiologist is not an easy road and can take at least 11 years to be able to practice as a radiologist but if you are specializing it can take 1 – 2 years longer but the rewards you reap are worth it. When graduating and becoming a licensed radiologist your average yearly salary could be as much as $250,000 plus all the great benefits that the employer will offer. It has also been found that you can earn a much higher salary if you are willing to work in areas that are less desirable such as rural clinics or inner-city hospitals. There are a lot of opportunities in the job market for radiologists and as each year passes the average yearly radiologist salary continues to rise. Research has also found that in today’s job market the average yearly radiologist salary is on track, if not better, than what a physician earns yearly.
- First Published Date: 17 July, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016