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General Questions - Skill Requirements


What is a Radiologist?

A radiologist is a classically trained medical doctor with the standard 4 years of undergraduate study, followed by medical school and residency.

There are many subspecialities in radiology, each requiring different areas of study. These include breast imaging, cardiovascular, tomography (bones & organs), diagnostic, emergency, genitourinary (reproductive and uniary tracts) and gastrointestinal radiology.

What is a Radiology Technician?

A radiologist technician takes patient x-rays and administers non-radioactive materials to patients to diagnosis illness.

What are the requirements to be a radiologist?

Radiologists must complete the requirements to become a medical doctor, or physician. This requires:

• 4 years of undergraduate (Bachelor’s degree)
• 4 years of medical school (Medical degree)
• 4 years of residency training
• 1 year of (optional) fellowship training for sub-specialization

A radiologist must then meet the additional requirements to practice medicine in the United States, including passing the USMLE exam, obtaining a state medical license, passing the board certification exam in Radiology, and obtaining hospital privileges and credentials. Some of the optional radiology subspecialty fellowships include interventional radiology, mammography, musculo-skeletal, body imaging, neuroradiology (brain imaging), to name a few.

Every medical student will be required to do hours of clinical rotation in a hospital or clinic facility associated with the university. For example, Stanford University Medical School requires 15.5 months of clinical clerkships, some of which is to be completed at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. Students at McGill University would be affiliated with Montreal General Hospital.

Do the radiologists work for the hospital?

Rarely. Usually, the radiologists do not work for the hospital, even though they work on the premises, use hospital equipment, and work with hospital-employed technologists.

What are radiologists' hours like?

Compared to other physicians, radiologists' hours might be shorter, but they interpret images any time of day and any day of the week, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

Can radiologists really interpret images from home?

Yes. CT, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and MR images can be transmitted from the imaging site to a computer in the home of the on-call radiologist. Very little information, if any, is lost in this transmission. X-rays are much more difficult to transmit because of the quantity of information necessary (very large gray scale as compared to digital images). This technology is, however, improving rapidly.

What is the Basic Medical Curriculum?

 • Medical students wishing to specialize in radiology still must take the standard medical curriculum. Though each medical school is different in the order they teach the courses, the foundations of medical education consist of the following:

 • Anatomy
 • Physiology
 • Histology
 • Biochemistry
 • Embryology
 • Neuroanatomy
 • Pathology
 • Pharmacology
 • Microbiology
 • Immunology

How is Medical School for someone studying radiology?

Radiologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis of diseases and ailments through radiologic images. Images are also used in the treatment of various conditions to determine their existence, progression or regression. The technology used to create radiologic images, includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), sonography and X-rays. As of 2010, the average salary for a radiologist is $143,000 per year, according to

Bachelor's Degree

Radiologists are required to undergo the same education and training as other physicians, beginning with a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Popular pre-med majors include biology, chemistry or physics, but a science-related major is not required as long as students meet the basic academic requirements necessary for medical school admission. Students should take biology, physics, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, English and statistics. Courses in anatomy, physiology and microbiology are also recommended. In addition to completing the prerequisite coursework, undergraduate students planning to apply to medical school will need to sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Out of a possible score of 45, medical schools with competitive admissions expect applicants to earn a minimum score of 30. Other requirements include a GPA of "B" or better, letters of recommendation from professors, advisors or mentors and a personal essay.

Medical School

Because radiologists are medical doctors, they are required to complete four years of medical school. Enrollment into medical school is contingent on completing an undergraduate degree in a science-related major and receiving strong scores on the Medical College Admissions Test. Medical school combines academic coursework with hospital training. Students are able to complete the hospital training through rotations in various areas of medicine, including radiology, neurology, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics. After the second and third years of medical school, students take the first two parts of the three-part U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The first part assesses a student’s ability to understand medical concepts, while the second part determines their ability to practice medicine.


A radiology residency program is four years in length and prepares graduates for the certification examination available through the American Board of Radiology. During the first year, residents take the final part of the USMLE, which ensures they are qualified to practice medicine unsupervised. Residents are able to learn more about radiology and specializations through lectures, conferences, rotations and research opportunities. Radiologic specializations are available in breast imaging, pediatric radiology, nuclear medicine, noninvasive cardiovascular imaging, abdominal imaging and musculoskeletal imaging. During the fourth year of a residency program, residents are able to assume more responsibilities with patients and focus on a specific area of radiology.


Fellowships allow prospective radiologists to continue their education and training in a specific area of radiology. Fellowships can last anywhere from one to two years and fellows are given opportunities to treat patients, participate in procedures and attend conferences. In order to be accepted into a fellowship program, applicants must submit their scores on the USMLE, three letters of reference, a personal statement and copy of their curriculum vitae.

Board Certification

Following a radiology residency, physicians are required to become board certified in their specialty. Radiologists must pass a board certification exam administered by the American Board of Radiology, the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology, the American Board of Medical Specialists, or an equivalent certifying organization.


After obtaining an M.D. or D.O. degree, future radiologists are required to sit for a state-administered licensing exam. Examinees who pass the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) receive a legal license to dispense medical treatment.

What are the Degrees for Radiologists?

Master of Science in Radiological Sciences

Earn a Master of Science in Radiological Sciences from the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine. The two-year program is split between classroom learning the first year and clinical rotations at the university's medical department in the second year. Required classes include radiation biology, physics of nuclear medicine, radiation dosimetry, regression analysis, experimental design, radiation protection, introduction to physiology and radiologic instrumentation, and engineering. Students rotate through clinical experiences in diagnostic radiology, nuclear medicine and therapeutic radiology. Before graduating, all students complete a written thesis research project.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in physical sciences; a major in physics is preferred. The candidate should have a minimum bachelor's grade point average of 3.0 and submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, three letters of recommendation and a statement of goals and objectives.

University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine
234 Goodman St.
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0757

Master of Science in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences

Thomas Jefferson University is the only university in the United States offering an accelerated Master of Science in Radiologic and Imaging Sciences. It is also the only northeastern college offering the standard version of the major. The program, which may be completed within 12 and 24 months, is taught with a combined method of in-class learning, online classes and independent study. Classes include radiologic science, advances in technology, the health care system, sectional anatomy, scanning procedures, and physics and instrumentation. Students complete a capstone project prior to graduation.

Candidates require a resume and a bachelor's degree in radiologic and imaging sciences. Students also must complete a medical exam evaluating their manual dexterity and their ability to distinguish colors, sit for up to seven hours, lift patients and carry lead aprons. Prospective students may be refused admission if they suffer from aneurism or have cardiac pacemakers, cochlear implants or embedded shrapnel or other metal objects.

Thomas Jefferson University
Jefferson School of Health Professions
130 South 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5233

Master of Health Science in Radiologist Assistant

Quinnipiac University offers a Radiologist Assistant Master of Health Science program, the only program available of its kind in Connecticut. The two-year program includes course work in medical terminology, pathophysiology, human anatomy, image critique, clinical pharmacology, interventional procedures, pathologic pattern recognition and patient assessment. Students gain real-world experience through the school's cadaver labs, imaging technologies and picture archival system, plus rotations through clinical assistant placements, accumulating a total of 1,500 clinical experience hours.

The program requires a bachelor's degree and certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Candidates must also have a track record of 2,000 hours of direct patient care, CPR for health care professionals certification and prior undergraduate course work in chemistry, biology, math, physics and anatomy.

Quinnipiac University
275 Mount Carmel Ave.
Hamden, CT 06518-1908

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