How to Become a Radiologist

Four Parts:High School PreparationPost-Secondary EducationRadiology ResidencyMedical Licensing and Practice

Radiologists are medical doctors who use diagnostic machines and procedures to assess and treat patients. Unlike other medical specialties, radiologists have limited contact with patients and may start practicing shortly after medical school and residency. Begin studying to become a radiologist by following the path outlined below.

Part 1
High School Preparation

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    Take advanced science and mathematics courses while you are in high school. You will need to be proficient in chemistry, biology and mathematics to start your bachelor's degree in science or pre-med.
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    Take your college preparatory exams. In order to get scholarships and be accepted into degree programs, you will want to seek high scores on ACT and SAT exams.
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    Apply for pre-med or other science-based programs while still in school. Many radiologists start their studies with a pre-medical degree, because it provides a good basis for med school. You will want to visit college campuses and apply early in your senior year.
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    Earn your high school diploma. You can begin post-secondary education immediately after finishing high school.

Part 2
Post-Secondary Education

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    Begin your bachelor's degree. Complete 4 years of study in a science field, such as biology, chemistry or pre-med.
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    Apply for medical internships while studying for your bachelor's degree. Most students who are preparing for med school spend 1 or 2 years of their degree in an internship doing research or working in a clinic environment.
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    Earn a high GPA. Earning honors, completing difficult research projects and earning awards will help you to be accepted into med school.
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    Take your Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). A good score on this test will increase your likelihood of acceptance into competitive med schools.
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    Apply for medical school before you finish your bachelor's degree.
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    Attend medical school for 4 years. You will need to complete approximately 2 years of coursework and 2 years of clinical rotations.
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    Choose your specialty. You will need to choose radiology and begin focusing your studies in order to get a radiology residency.

Part 3
Radiology Residency

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    Pass your United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) or Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX). Your scores will help you to compete for radiology residencies.
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    Apply for and begin your 4-year radiology residency. You will be required to work and study in a clinical environment during this time.
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    Complete a 1-year sub-specialty residency in radiology. You can complete a subspecialty training in order to specialize in diagnosing different areas of the body or different diseases.
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    Complete a fellowship, if you want to be an interventional radiologist, also known as a Surgical Radiologist, you will need an additional year or two of residency before you can begin practicing. These specially trained radiologists use image guided probes and other minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat patients with a wide range of problems.

Part 4
Medical Licensing and Practice

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    Apply for your state license to practice medicine. Once you decide where you want to practice, you may need to pass practical and written exams in your state.
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    Apply for radiology certifications. Many radiologists take written and oral tests to be certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (AOBR) or the American Board of Radiology (ABR). This will serve as an extra credential and put you in touch with professional associates.
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    Practice medicine as a radiologist in a clinic or hospital. Most radiologists manage a staff of technicians and other licensed professionals during their radiology career.
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    Take continuing education classes to remain certified and licensed.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Bachelor's degree in science
  • MCAT exams
  • Internship
  • Medical degree
  • Medical licensing exam
  • Residency
  • Sub-specialty
  • State license
  • Certification (optional)
  • Medical practice

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