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Training and Education

Become a Radiology Tech: Training & Education Requirements

One of the many exciting career paths within the world of radiology is that of the radiology technician.

If you are one of those people who are fascinated by the inner workings of the human anatomy, and love to look at how the different parts of the body are interconnected to each other, a career as a radiology tech might be something that could be very interesting to you.

Also, with radiology treatments and imaging technologies continuing to grow at a fast pace, becoming a radiology tech could very well provide you with a stable source of income with much advancement potential.

What Exactly Do They Do?

Radiology technicians work hand in hand with physicians or radiologists in health care facilities.

They are specifically in charge of the actual operation of imaging equipment, carrying out examinations, preparing the patients for the procedure, and then releasing the images and helping to analyze the results with radiologists or physicians.

While many radiologists are also trained in the carrying out of the examinations, in most larger medical facilities it is the responsibility of the radiology technicians to handle this, while radiologists and doctors discuss the findings and suggest treatments with patients.

In Charge of the Testing Process

Radiology technicians would explain to the patient the medical imaging process they are about to undergo, whether it is an X-ray exam, mammography, CAT scan, MRI, or other procedure.

Become a Radiology Tech: Training & Education Requirements

The radiology tech is also responsible for making sure that the patient is prepared to undergo the imaging process, which would mean removing clothing, jewelry, or other personal items that could become an interference to the test and skew results. The technician will also need to make sure that the patient is properly positioned so that the most accurate test results can be achieved.

One of the most important parts of the radiology technician’s job is making sure that all safety precautions are being followed, especially as the equipment being utilized uses various levels of radiation in the imaging techniques, and can become hazardous to people’s health if not handled correctly. Protective coverings such as gowns, lead aprons, etc. are used to protect the patient’s body areas that will not be tested.

Training Required

Because of the sensitive nature of the duties and responsibilities of radiology technicians, they need to be adequately trained and skilled prior to taking on the daily tasks. There are currently several different options that aspiring radiology technicians can choose from:

  • Certificate program. The first option is to take up a certificate program which, on average, takes about one to two years to complete. Many local community colleges, technical or vocational schools, and hospitals offer certificate programs, and these are also offered as online courses.

  • Associate’s Degree. The most common route that radiology technicians take is to finish a two year associate’s degree. Most private and public learning institutions offer at two year associate’s program geared for radiology technicians. Additionally, some larger universities offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Radiologic Technology, which is completed in four years.

Whichever route you choose to take in getting the right education and skills to become a radiology technician, make sure that the institution you select has the proper credentials and accreditation.

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Jobs in Radiology

Become a Radiologist: Training & Education Requirements

How do you become a radiologist? A radiologist is an important part of the medical field, and is also expected to have a detailed knowledge of the human anatomy and the various medical illnesses and conditions that normally require radiologic imaging and treatments.

On the average, a radiologist-to-be would have to commit at least 13 years of his or her life to the education and training required to become a practicing radiologist.

The First Step: a Bachelor’s Degree

Your career path to becoming a radiologist will usually start with a bachelor’s degree, with the prerequisite courses including biology, physics, or chemistry.

If you are looking to gain more experience in working in medical settings, you can opt to find part-time work or volunteer options at local hospitals or health care facilities even during your undergraduate education; many institutions offer work programs for undergraduate students in medical school prerequisites.

Medical School

After you get your undergraduate education, the next step is medical school, which is another four years of your life.

Medical school will let you learn the sciences in a classroom setting, including anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and other areas of learning. Then another two years will consist of clinical rotation learning and experiencing the various areas of internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and more.

Four Years of Radiology Residency

Become a Radiologist: Training & EducationOnce you have completed medical school, it will be time for your radiology residency. This is a four-year period of specialized medical education, clinical rotations in the different specializations within radiology, paid internship and training, lectures, research, and other tasks.

The residency will allow you to immerse yourself even more in the day-to-day activities and responsibilities which you will have to perform on your own once you are a licensed radiologist.

During residency, you will also have to master radiation safety and precautions. Most radiologists also continue with up to two more years of specialized training with a fellowship, a more personalized and rigorous form of mentorship in a specific area of radiology such as nuclear medicine.

Get Certified

Radiologists need to have licensure or board certification in order to practice. Board certification and requirements vary from state to state, and even by country. Generally, however, there are oral and written exams that applicants must pass, and these exams encompass everything learned so far in all those years of training and education.

Once licensed, the certification does not end for radiologists, as the license must be renewed regularly. The exams that need to be passed for licensure include the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX).

Learning Never Stops

Now, the medical industry is constantly changing and being revolutionized by advances in research and technology. Even when a radiologist has finally completed the required training and education, the road to learning never stops.

A radiologist who wants to remain relevant and updated with the latest developments in the field of radiology can take it on himself to take continuing courses, refreshers, or even online classes to enhance skills and information. Any opportunities to develop one’s knowledge and skillset should be maximized in order to stay competitive and aware of the continuing growth in radiology.

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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

How to Become a Radiologist: Step By Step Guide

Organizing our thoughts and plans into structured lists often helps us to better manage our time and maximize our actions into the most effective strategies.

If at the moment you are considering what career to take, or you are wanting a career change from the one you are involved in right now, perhaps you are considering becoming a radiologist because of the many opportunities that are available in this field.

Before making any final decision, you would want to have a clear layout of expectations in order to prepare your plan of action.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide that you can use as you prepare to become a radiologist, starting from the basics:

Step 1: Select a school for your undergraduate course

How to Become a Radiologist: Step By Step Guide

Before you enter medical school, you will be required to complete an undergraduate course in a related field of study first.

A undergraduate degree in biology, biochemistry, physics, organic and inorganic chemistry, etc. will prepare you for medical school. It is very important that you also choose the right school that will give you the best training possible.

Some universities and colleges now offer a dual program that combines the bachelor’s degree program and the medical degree, and this can help you save a few years of medical schooling and expenses. Try to look for programs that specifically have a pre-med focus as this will be an advantage for you entering into medical school.

Step 2: The MCAT Exam

After getting your bachelor’s degree, your next step will be applying for medical school.

The first hurdle will be taking the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT, where your skills in science, communication, and writing will be assessed. When you apply to medical school, most institutions will look at the results of your MCAT Examination.

Step 3: Medical School

You can choose between two types of medical degrees, the Medical Degree (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.).

Your first two years in medical school will be spent mostly in classroom study and laboratory work, as well as clinics and research programs. You will learn the intricacies of neurology, immunology, emergency care, patient care, epidemiology, and other areas of study.

During your third and fourth years in medical school, you will have the chance to perform supervised contact with patients in hospital and outpatient settings.

Step 4: Residency

After medical school, you will have to complete at least four years of radiology residency. An additional year (minimum) of residency in the subspecialty of radiology you selected will also have to be completed. Many large teaching hospitals and health care institutions offer residency programs for the different specializations of radiology. During this time, you will also be paid while undergoing your residency.

Step 5: Board Certification

In the United States, you are required to have state licensure to be able to practice medicine. Additional radiology certification is obtained through the American Board of Radiologists.

If you choose to become an osteopathic doctor, certification is through the American Osteopathic College of Radiology.

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Types of Radiology

Radiology 101: Types of Radiology

Radiology is a large branch of medical science, and within radiology there are also specializations and subcategories that deal with specific diagnoses, treatments, and analysis of various areas of the human body.

As you decide which specialization within radiology to pursue as your career path, you should also know the different subcategories within radiology in order to differentiate them and make a clear, informed choice of what you would like to do.

Choosing Your Expertise

Radiology 101: Types of Radiology - BecomeaRadiologist.org

During your first few years in medical school, you would have a more detailed understanding of the human body in general, which would also give you a better idea of what to expect later on.

While training to become a radiologist would usually entail learning about radiology’s various branches as a whole (much like any other medical science), radiology practitioners would train for one or more of these specific branches or areas of study for their practice:

  • Breast Imaging. This area of radiology deals specifically with the imaging and diagnosis of various breast diseases or conditions. Procedures that fall under breast imaging include:

Mammography – a process that uses low-level X-rays to diagnose and screen the breast area. A mammography is used to detect breast cancer and analysis of treatment strategy.

Breast MRI – A contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast area is used as a more detailed alternative to a mammography.

  • Cardiovascular Radiology. This subcategory refers to testing and diagnosis of the heart and blood vessels, checking for various diseases and conditions that usually show up in these areas ( arteries, veins, lymphatics, etc.). X-ray tests, CT or CAT scans, ultrasound tests, or MRI scans area usually utilized in cardiovascular radiology.

  • Chest Radiology. For the diagnotic imaging and diagnosis of different diseases of the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest area, chest radiology is the specialization. This category of radiology also utilizes procedures such as lung biopsy and chest fluid drainage.

  • Emergency Radiology. This branch of radiology refers to the diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of trauma and non-traumatic emergency situations.

  • Gastrointestinal Radiology. Gastrointestinal or GI radiology deals with the gastrointestinal or digestive tract and the abdomen. Diagnosis and treatment procedures under GI radiology include:

Flouroscopy – This is the real-time use of X-rays to view images inside the patient’s body using a fluoroscope.

Fluid and Abscess Drainage – Radiation can be used to drain excess fluid or abscess build-up in the patient’s gastrointestinal or digestive tract.

  • Genitourinary Radiology. This specialization within radiology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions that occur in the reproductive and urinary tracts. Digital imaging techniques used in genitourinary radiology include x-ray, MRI, CT or CAT scans, and MRIs, while treatment procedures usually include kidney stone removal, uterine fibroid removal, or biopsy.

  • Head and Neck Radiology. Head and neck diseases are diagnosed and treated using a variety of techniques specific to head and neck radiology.

  • Musculoskeletal Radiology. The diagnostic imaging and diagnosis of medical conditions of the body’s muscles and the skeleton is referred to as musculoskeletal radiology.

  • Neuroradiology. A more detailed and intricate diagnostic imaging and treatment procedure for the head, neck and spine, as well as the brain and the nervous system, is referred to as neuroradiology. CT or CAT scans, MRI, and ultrasound are the usual imaging techniques used here.

  • Nuclear Radiology. This category of radiology diagnoses and treats patients that have been exposed to or have trace doses of radioactive compounds. For imaging, techniques such as gamma imaging, PET, and PET/CT are used. Nuclear radiology encompasses imaging of the heart, skeletal system, liver, spleen, lungs, kidney, thyroid or parathyroid glands, and most other areas and organs of the body.

  • Pediatric Radiology. This branch of radiology is geared specifically towards the diagnostic imaging and treatment of children’s diseases.

  • Radiation Oncology. This is the category of radiology that seeks to treat various forms of cancer in the body. Radiation therapy is delivered to the body through an outside X-ray source or injected to the area of the body. Because this area of radiology is more advanced, it is also among the highest-paying and in-demand types of radiology.
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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.

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Training and Education

Radiology Training Exams

Examinations are part and parcel of any training program and curriculum regardless of what industry or field of study you will undertake.

Examinations are a means of testing your knowledge and understanding of the subject material, and assessing if you were able to successfully absorb concepts, procedures, and important information which will be absolutely critical to how you carry out your duties in your chosen profession.

Exams gauge your knowledge

Radiology Training - How to Become A Radiologist

In the medical industry, written examinations are also part of the training process.

While much of the training in the medical sciences revolves around actual application of stock knowledge, diagnostic tests and assessments are still a must for aspiring health care professionals.

They are a gauge of how much they have retained in their memory, something that would indeed be important especially considering how sensitive the nature of their job is.

Who Administers Radiology Exams?

Radiology training exams are prepared and administered by different certifying organizations and authorities within this branch of medical science. In particular, the American College of Radiology (ACR) administers two specific radiology in-training exams every year, namely the Diagnostic Radiology In-Training exam (DXIT) and the Radiation Oncology In-Training exam (TXIT).

DXIT

The DXIT is a computer-based examination which is given out every January in the United States, with an exam window for Canada and International within the same month as well. This is a voluntary exam for radiology residents-in-training measuring their general achievement. The results are used to assess their progress, and also to gauge the residency program.

TXIT

The TXIT, meanwhile, is more specific to the subcategory of radiation oncology and is usually administered in March.

CoAP

A more rigorous examination that measures competency specifically in the area of cardiac imagery is the Cardiac CT Certificate of Advanced Proficiency (CoAP) Examination, also administered by the ACR. The exam’s format is entirely computer-based, combining both a knowledge-based multiple choice questionnaire format and practical, cardiac CT case assessments.

ABR-Administered Exams

The American Board of Radiology (ABR) also administers several examinations as part of the radiology residency training, namely, the Core Exam (taken 36 months after starting radiology residency) and the Certifying Exam (after diagnostic radiology residency is finished).

Both exams cover general aspects of diagnostic radiology. The Core Exam, in addition, includes a portion of the RadioIsotope Safety Exam (RISE).

The Certifying Exam, meanwhile, emphasizes on synthesis of information, differential diagnosis, and patient management, with three modules dealing specifically with clinical practice areas preselected by the individual. The Certifiying Exam also includes the second portion of the RISE.

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Radiology Schools

Radiology Schools in California

Rankings of radiology schools in the United States vary based on who is doing the ranking, of course. Some lists focus on facilities and whether the institution is linked to a well-recognized hospital facility where students can learn the ins and outs of radiology, while others take degree programs, faculty members, and residency into more consideration.

In the state of California, particularly, there are radiology schools that are considered as some of the best in the country, and it would be an advantage for you to be aware of what the schools offer and which one is the best for your needs.

  • University-students-5493724

    Stanford School of Medicine’s Radiology Department. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the state as well as nationwide. Stanford Radiology boasts of a world-class group of faculty and instructors who are involved in various innovations and breakthroughs in research and engineering within the field of radiology.

The training program offered by Stanford Radiology is divided into two parts: Clinical Training and Research Training. Students can also take part in ongoing seminars, conferences, and continuing medical education to further enhance their skills in radiology.

  • Cabrillo College. Recognized for its Radiologic Technology Program, a two-year Associate in Science Degree program designed specifically for training radiologic technologists professionally. Cabrillo College’s Radiologic Technology Program has been given the highest level of accreditation by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Students are trained in patient care, X-ray equipment operation, film quality assessment, and other duties and responsibilities of radiologic technologists. In addition, California has 35 accredited radiology technology schools.

  • The City College of San Francisco. Its Radiologic Sciences Department currently offers two different programs for full-time students: Diagnostic Medical Imaging (DMI) and Radiation Therapy Technology (RTT). Once the student completes the program, graduates are qualified to take the national credential exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

According to the school, 100% of their RTT graduates have passed their first attempt at the examination since 2010.

Community Colleges

In Southern California, community colleges that prepare students for careers in radiology technology include

  • Cypress College
  • Long Beach City College
  • Chaffey College.

Their programs are similar to each other in duration (two-year programs), and their radiology technology programs all combine classroom and clinical training.

Long Beach City College, in particular, offers certificates of accomplishment in the areas of MRI, mammography, and fluoroscopy.