Diagnostic Radiologist Degree and Certification Program Overview

Diagnostic radiology is a medical specialty that medical school graduates train for through a medical residency program at a teaching hospital rather than in a degree program.

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Essential Information

Diagnostic radiology residency programs offer intensive training in all aspects of radiology, including using images to diagnose injuries, illnesses and diseases. As residents, these doctors can develop their ability to interpret images, solve clinical problems, perform procedures and teach other medical students.

Residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The board-certification process for a diagnostic radiologist involves passing several examinations after the residency. Continuing education is required to retain certification.

Physicians entering into these programs must have graduated from an approved medical program or residency program appropriated by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Foreign Medical Graduates or the Canadian Resident Matching Service matching systems. Residency programs may take four to five years to complete, including clinical work.


Residency Programs in Diagnostic Radiology

Education in diagnostic radiology is completed through real-life experience as a medical resident working alongside faculty in a teaching hospital. Residents also attend conferences. Diagnostic radiology training typically includes these areas:

  • Abdominal imaging
  • Ultrasound
  • Mammography
  • Pediatric radiology
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Thoracic radiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job growth for all physicians and surgeons would increase by 14% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than average for all jobs (www.bls.gov). Further expansion in health care and health-related services, along with an aging population, is fueling that growth. According to O*NET OnLine, radiologists made a median annual salary of over $187,200 in 2015.

Licensing, Certification and Continuing Education

All medical doctors must be licensed in the U.S., and that typically involves graduating from an accredited medical school and passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam. The American Board of Radiology, a part of the American Board of Medical Specialties, is the board certification organization for radiologists. Initial certification typically happens after a series of exams taken near the end of residency.

Certification is good for ten years but must be kept current through continuing education, or maintenance of certification, courses. Several professional organizations, such as the Radiology Society of North America and the American College of Radiology, offer continuing education courses and seminars in a variety of radiology topics and specialties.

Physicians seeking specialization in diagnostic radiology may pursue a residency program through which they receive the necessary training and preparation to sit for the required certified radiologist examination.

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