The Job of a Radiologist
Radiology is the science dealing with X-rays and other type of radiation, specifically as it relates to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. As the science expands, experts in the field keep up to date through a regular radiology continuing education course and review of the literature. But what do they do every day at work?
A radiologist is a medical doctor. They specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging (radiology) procedures (exams/tests) such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound.
In addition to medical school and residencies, radiologists must train and keep up to date on the latest imaging technology. Since many of the technologies use radiation, a radiologist must also receive training in radiation safety and protection.
Accreditation and Licensing
In addition to graduating from medical school, a radiologist must pass a licensing exam and complete about four years of post-graduate training. This specialized training includes topics like: radiation safety, the effects of radiation on the body, and interpretation of medical imaging.
Radiologists will then work in a facility that also has appropriate licensure. The American College of Radiology (ACR) is the licensing organization for imaging facilities. They oversee the education and training standards for radiologists.
As with any healthcare profession, there is no such thing as a “typical day” for a radiologist. They do tend to work a regular schedule, however, with set and predictable work hours. Their daily tasks may include:
- Gathering patient health histories from interviews, electronic records, other physicians, or reports
- Performing imaging procedures for patients using appropriate technology
- Reviewing and interpreting the information gathered from these imaging procedures
- Preparing reports of findings
- Delivering the results to physicians and patients
In addition to tasks related to imaging, radiologists may also perform some interventional procedures, such as an image-guided biopsy. In larger teaching hospitals, they may supervise medical students as well.
Radiology is itself a specialty field, and radiologists can choose to further specialize in that field. Some physicians choose to focus on sports-related imaging, or on radiation oncology, the treatment of cancer through radiation. The American Board of Radiology defines and oversees a growing list of specialties in the profession.
Beyond and through each day of work, a radiologist is on the lookout for a good radiology continuing education course. They must complete a certain number of continuing education hours to keep their license current, and the ever-changing technology provides a long list of potential topics. The job has moved beyond the basic dictionary definition to a nuanced and cutting-edge field of medicine.