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Become a Neuroradiologist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a neuroradiologist. Research the education and career requirements, training, licensure information, and experience required for starting a career in neuroradiology. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Neuroradiologist?

Neuroradiologists are doctors who focus on diagnosing conditions of the spine, neck, head, and central nervous system. They use medical equipment, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, to identify problems.

Like other types of physicians, neuroradiologists work in medical care settings including private practices and hospitals. A small risk of infection is present for all individuals working near ill patients; additionally, CT and MRI machines emit radiation that needs be minimized in order to protect technicians and physicians using the imagery technology. There is excellent potential for earning a high income as a medical doctor, though long, irregular hours may be demanded of those working in hospitals, and the job can be very stressful.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Doctoral
Degree Field Medicine with a specialization in neuroradiology
Experience 1-year internship, 4-year residency, 1- to 2-year fellowship
Licensure and Certification A state-issued license is required; voluntary certifications are available
Key Skills Verbal/written communication; empathy; leadership; patience; attention to detail; problem-solving; ability to use electronic patient record databases, MRI machines, and CT machines; knowledge of human anatomy and conditions related to the head, neck, spine, and central nervous system
Salary (2016) $286,902 yearly (median for radiologists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), University of South Carolina, O*Net Online, Payscale.com

Neuroradiologists have doctoral degrees in medicine (M.D.) with specializations in neuroradiology. They pay close attention to detail and demonstrate empathy, leadership, and patience. They are expected to have skills in problem-solving and in communications, both verbal and written. They must be able to use electronic patient record databases, MRI machines, and CT machines. They must also possess knowledge of human anatomy and conditions related to the head, neck, spine, and central nervous system.

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for radiologists, including neuroradiologists, was $286,902 in 2016.

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Steps to Become a Neuroradiologist

What steps do I need to take to become a neuroradiologist?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

An aspiring neuroradiologist must complete 4 years of undergraduate study to be eligible for medical school. In some cases, medical programs allow undergraduate studies to be combined with medical school in order to decrease the time it takes to become a licensed physician.

Although students may choose to major in a field of study relevant to medicine, such as a Bachelor of Science in Biology, it's only required to take the science courses that a prospective medical school stipulates. Additionally, students must take and pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to gain admission to medical school.

Success Tip:

  • Volunteer while you're in college. Volunteering at a local hospital, assisted living center, hospice, or health clinic can provide experience working with patients in a medical environment, while also helping applicants stand out to medical school admissions boards.

Step 2: Complete a Medical School Program

Medical school typically takes 4 years to complete. In most cases, the first 2 years introduce medical concepts, biology, and clinical sciences in classrooms. The final 2 years shift towards clinical settings and learning about various specialties within medicine.

In the case of the neuroradiologist, a student may take elective coursework related to the broad field of radiology, which will provide the necessary foundation for neuroradiology. Classes that focus on radiology include working with CT, X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI machines.

Step 3: Obtain Licensure

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all physicians must be licensed in order to practice medicine. Neuroradiologists are required to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to become licensed. The test is taken in 3 steps, and many hospitals require at least some of the steps to be completed before a student is accepted into an internship or residency.

Step 4: Complete an Internship and Residency

After medical school, an internship and residency are required. While the time it takes to finish this stage can vary for each student, the typical internship lasts 1 year, and residency lasts about 4 years. A residency is a paid experience, designed to provide hands-on learning under the supervision of attending physicians and experienced doctors.

Step 5: Complete a Fellowship in Neuroradiology

Pursuing a fellowship is one of the last steps to becoming a neuroradiologist. A fellowship is similar to a residency in that it provides further specialization - in this case, in neuroradiology - for the physician. A fellowship can last 1-2 years, with training that may include deciphering neuroimaging, identifying anomalies, and using angiography. Emphasis will be placed on treating illnesses in the neck, spine, head, and brain.

Step 6: Consider Certification and Continue Medical Education

While it is not required, neuroradiologists may choose to pursue board certification to demonstrate their proficiency in this medical specialty to both potential employers and patients. All doctors are required to continue their education to stay abreast of current medical practices. Board certification must be renewed after 10 years.

Neuroradiologists are doctors who focus on the spine, neck, head, and central nervous system. They have doctoral degrees, advanced problem-solving skills, and vast knowledge of patient anatomy, and they earn a median annual salary of $286,902.

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