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Radiology FAQs

Radiology Training FAQs

Radiology is a viable career path for you to consider especially if you are interested in medical science and its various facets. Many exciting developments are and innovations are constantly being introduced in the field of radiology and imaging treatment, all geared towards earlier, better diagnosis and treatments of various illnesses and conditions.

The increase in applications and programs related to radiology has also caused a shortage in radiologists, so this field is one where you can find a placement if you are qualified.

As with most anything in life, people usually have a lot of queries regarding radiology and if it is the right career decision for them to make.

It is normal to have questions about anything you are thinking of embarking on. In fact, it is recommended that you do ask questions and find out as much as you can about radiology before you make the final call on whether this is something you are ready to commit to. The following are some common questions related to radiology training that people ask:

  • What types of Radiology Degree Programs are available?

Radiology Training - How to Become A Radiologist

There are different choices of degree programs depending on what you plan to do in the future as a radiologist. For instance, a technologist would require an associate’s degree in order to learn the technical proficiency skills.

If you are planning on becoming a full-fledged radiologist or physician, however, a bachelor’s degree is a must as it walks you through the foundational concepts, while a radiology doctorate degree gives you the training and experience needed in the use of imaging technologies.

You may also be curious about the different areas of specialization within radiology, and there are several to choose from as well.

Radiography, used in creating medical images used in computer tomography, magnetic resonance, mammography, or cardiovascular technology, is one of the more common imaging modalities. Ultrasound or sonography uses sound waves to reproduce images from inside the body. Meanwhile, nuclear medicine makes use of radioactive materials to emit radiation and illuminate body parts.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another popular imaging technology; it combines radio frequencies and magnetic fields to produce images of body tissues and organs. The CT scan or Computed Tomography is another form of X-ray scanning, but it takes images from different angles, joining larger organs and tissues for a more detailed, thorough analysis.

Ultimately, the area you specialize in would be determined by your personal interest and skills. As you learn the differences between the different areas, you can have a better understanding and see which one fits you best.

  • How long does it take to get a Radiology Degree?

To become a radiologist, you have to be ready to sign up for a few years of studying and internship.

The undergraduate education would run about four years, after which you will need to get your medical degree (another four years of medical school), a year of internship, four years of residency, and the usual specialty fellowship training for an area of specialization. To become a full-fledged radiologist, you are looking at at least 10-12 years of training.

  • How much does a Radiology Degree cost?

The cost of getting a radiology degree would depend on where you will go to school, as well as all the other related expenses.

For students who attend a university and live on-campus, the average cost would be around $14,000 annually, and about half that cost if you decide to stay at home. Of course, the investment will come back as you complete your degree and begin to make an average of $50,000 annually. Another option you might be interested in is online classes.

  • What Type of Training is Available Online?

There are online providers and academic institutions that offer online learning programs and classes related to radiology. For the most part, educational institutions make the general education courses and programs available online for students.

Most degree programs by traditional institutions are still on-site, however. Online radiology schools offering degrees and programs via Web-based learning are growing at a fast rate.

  • What is Initial Certification?

Initial certification refers to the first important certification in a radiology candidate’s life.

The American Board of Radiology (ABR) officially defines initial certification as certification “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.”

To qualify for initial certification, the candidate needs to successfully meet requirements in basic education and exams.  Initial certification is very important as you look for employment, because most employers will ask for this.

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Training and Education

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.