A radiologist is an important member of a patient’s medical team, ranking up there with the primary care physician.
When a patient’s primary care provider wants confirmation of his diagnostic suspicions of his patient’s illness, he refers the patient for diagnostic imaging tests. While a qualified radiologic technician may perform the actual tests, it is the radiologist’s job to interpret the test results and provide the original doctor with a diagnosis of the patient’s illness.
A radiologist must be very detail-oriented and 100 percent accurate with his diagnosis. If the radiologist makes the wrong diagnosis, then the primary doctor may prescribe the wrong treatment for the patient’s condition and could possibly put her in a life-threatening situation. Sometimes the radiologist may perform procedures, such as inserting drainage tubes in gall bladder patients or administering radiation treatments to cancer patients.
A radiologist is a physician who has completed four years each of medical school and a residency. After this, he may take another year of training in a specialty such as mammography or neuroradiology. Before he can practice, though, a radiologist must be licensed by a state to practice medicine and pass a board certification exam in radiology. Since radiologists are normally affiliated with hospitals, he must be credentialed by a hospital.
A radiologist must be very computer literate, since he will be working with computers and computerized equipment on a daily basis. A mechanical aptitude also is necessary to operate sophisticated imaging equipment.
Thanks to modern technology, a radiologist does not need to be physically located at the facility where the testing was done. Through computerization of images, a radiologist in California can read and interpret results of tests taken in another state. A radiologist could also work from home if his computer is connected to the test facility’s network.
The job outlook for radiologists is good, with the demand for radiologists to grow faster than average, by a minimum of 20 percent through 2020, the federal government says.
Radiologists earn very attractive salaries, with annual wages ranging between $268,000 and $494,000 before benefits, such as ample vacation are considered. In comparison, a general practitioner earns a salary between $138,000 and $223,000 annually. As with any job, a radiologist’s salary depends on education, specialty, experience, geographic location and the size and type of the medical facility he works for.