A research study developed in November of 2012 by the Indiana University School of Medicine showed that out of 307 people who had undergone outpatient CT scans at the university hospital, an astounding 67% of them hardly had a clue as to what radiologists actually do. This is not necessarily the patients fault, however. Not many radiologists actually interact with the people that are being scanned. Most radiologists spend their time in reading rooms, studying and interpreting images; striving to come up with the best solutions for their findings. Meanwhile, the patients are interacting with physicians and doctors, not the actual individual who has dissected each image and is the most familiar with the results of a scan.
What is Radiology?
Radiology is an area of medical expertise that utilizes images taken of the human body in order to diagnose and treat diseases.
How are images of the body made?
- With the use of electromagnetic radiation images are developed. X-rays produce images of the interior of the body by passing rays through bodily tissue and bone.
- With the use of magnetic fields and radio waves images can be created. A MRI scanner is most preferred by physicians because it does not use radiation. So it is a safer way to capture detailed image without jeopardizing the patients health and safety.
- With a combination of X-rays and computers a CT scanner is also a useful piece of equipment which collects detailed images. It provides clearer images than a normal X-ray machine.
- With a small amount of radioactive material given to a patient along with the technology of a PET scanner (usually in conjunction with a CT or MRI scanner too), 3D images of the body are produced.
- With high frequency sound waves images are generated with the use of an Ultrasound machine. Just like the MRI scanner, the Ultrasound is proclaimed safer to use because it does not require radiation to collect its images.
What is a Radiologist?
A radiologist is a medical doctor specializing in the interpretation of images taken by imaging machines (which were mentioned above). They are educated in postgraduate training courses which develop their knowledge and ability to discern specifics of diseases and illnesses found within the images. They are experts in diagnosing and explaining the medical problems captured by the images and they have the skills to make educated recommendations on treatment options that are available for patients. When it comes to deciding which test and which machine will be most helpful in diagnosing a patients symptom, injury or disease, a radiologist will be there to answer those questions. They can tell whether an imaging procedure would be pointless and they can explain why a specific machine will provide the best results. They communicate to doctors and physicians what the results imply and what steps a patient needs to take next.
What is a quick overview of the requirements to become a Radiologist?
Usually to become a radiologist, a person would need to graduate with a pre-med bachelors degree from an accredited college. Then attend medical school by taking the Medical College Admission Test. If the student passes that assessment which is a test focused on science, communication and writing skills, then they are accepted into a 4 year medical program. The first two years, students spend time in laboratories, clinics and classrooms. The last two years, students begin to incorporate all of their studies into real life settings, such as a hospital or outpatient center. They gain the opportunity to work with real people and real patients. By the fourth year, they will have chosen what specialty they would like to learn more about and become an expert in. Most students will spend four years in a residency with pay. The last step of this long process leading to successful career is to earn your state licensure. In order to practice medicine a person must receive this certification.
So what does it mean to be an imaging expert? It means they have devoted years to education in order to make a positive impact in peoples lives. A radiologist not only interprets images and diagnoses illnesses they have knowledge and experience so they have the ability to make the most educated decisions and recommend the best solutions for patients. They are passionate about their work, they have phenomenal decision making skills and are team players. A radiologists role is of great importance!