As technology has advanced the field of medicine has advanced as well. Where doctors once had to rely upon physically seeing the inside of the body through surgery to fully understand a problem, we now have the technology to look past the skin without making a single incision. MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays, and ultrasounds allow doctors to look into the body in an attempt to discover the root of an injury or disease in a non-invasive manner. While it is the responsibility of doctors to determine what is wrong with us when we are injured or ill, not every doctor is capable of administering or interpreting the results of MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays, and ultrasounds. Only those with a radiology degree are capable of appropriately administering and interpreting these tests.
Individuals with radiology degrees are responsible for correlating image results from tests with other tests and a possible diagnosis from referring doctors to help develop a treatment plan for patients. A radiologist is also responsible for treating patients through the use of radiation therapy and minimally invasive image guided surgeries. Data from the American Medical Association shows that only 1.2 percent of doctors have a radiology degree.
Individuals with radiology degrees hold either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree as a result of successfully completing medical school. The education a radiologist receives is very similar to that of general practice doctors. They must complete undergraduate studies of at least three years (though usually medical schools require a Bachelor’s Degree at least for entrance) and then earn admission to a medical school. In medical school radiologists complete two years of coursework followed by a one year internship. After the internship radiologists must complete a four year residency program in radiology to give them experience in the field.
Once an individual has completed medical school and earned their radiology degree, they must become board certified in order to practice. Board certification is offered by one of the two following groups:
- American Board of Radiology (Doctor of Medicine holders)
- American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine holders)
At this point holders of radiology degrees can either go into the career field and begin working or continue their education through a fellowship. Individuals considering a fellowship are looking to get into one of the subspecialties within radiology and will face extensive clinical work and research, the length of which is determined by the subspecialty. It is possible for individuals to specialize in more than one of the following subspecialties of radiology:
- Breast imaging
- Cardiovascular Radiology
- Chest Radiology
- Emergency Radiology
- Gastrointestinal (GI) Radiology
- Genitourinary Radiology
- Head and Neck Radiology
- Musculoskeletal Radiology
- Pediatric Radiology
- Interventional Radiology
- Nuclear Radiology
- Radiation Oncology