Radiology Certification: What is Initial Certification?

Medical practitioners and health care professionals are involved in very sensitive, often life-and-death situations and decisions in the diagnosis, analysis, and treatment of various medical conditions and diseases of patients.

As such, they are expected to undergo very rigorous and detailed training, have substantial knowledge and contextual understanding of the field of study they are in.

As a way to maintain the standards of professionalism and expertise within its ranks, the medical community utilizes various forms of licensing and certification for practitioners.

In radiology, there are also different levels and steps in the certification of a radiologist, and the process begins with initial certification before the aspiring radiologist officially gets credentials for specific subcategories within radiology.

What is Initial Certification?

As defined by the American Board of Radiology, initial certification is:

“For candidates who are not yet certified in diagnostic radiology, any of its subspecialties (neuroradiology, nuclear radiology, pediatric radiology, and vascular and interventional radiology), radiation oncology, or medical physics.”

Meanwhile, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists requires candidates who are seeking initial certification, or otherwise known as primary pathway certification, to have met certain requirements in basic education, ethics, and examinations.

The ARRT requirements include:

  • Candidates pursuing primary pathway certification in Radiography, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Radiation Therapy, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or Sonography must have — within the past five years — successfully completed an educational program that is accredited by a mechanism acceptable to the ARRT.

  • Candidates must also demonstrate competency in didactic coursework and an ARRT-specified list of clinical procedures by completing competency requirements established for the discipline in which they are seeking certification.

If you are in the Ultrasound or Nuclear Medicine fields within Radiology, it is important to note that there are separate certification guidelines and requirements within these two areas.

For those in the Sonography field, the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or ARDMS is the organization that provides credentials, administers examinations, and enforces standards. Only two states require ARDMS certification for ultrasound practitioners, but it is still recommended and is an advantage for those who have it.

For Nuclear Medicine Technologists, meanwhile, the overseeing organization is the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board. The NMTCB administers exams and issues specialty certifications for those in the nuclear medicine branch of radiology.

Why Initial Certification Important?

According to the ARRT itself, “employers, state licensing agencies, and federal regulators look at the ARRT credential as an indication that a person has met a recognized national standard for medical imaging, interventional procedures, and radiation therapy professionals.”

If you have initial certification, it will be a great foundation for you as you continue getting training for your specialization. It is also something that prospective employers would look for and want you to have, as it gives them the peace of mind that you are truly qualified and you have met the basic requirements in order to handle the responsibilities associated with your work. Also, many patients look for certification in their health care providers and medical professionals.