Advancement Opportunities for Radiologists

Radiologists are highly trained physicians. Some may wish to investigate specialties in radiology, while others may wish to advance into various non-clinical careers.

Career Growth Opportunities for Radiologists

Radiologists are medical doctors who focus on reading and interpreting diagnostic images, including X-Rays, MRIs and ultrasounds. Some physicians may wish to seek advancement within the field of radiology. They might consider radiology subspecialties, such as interventional radiology or radiation oncology. Other, non-clinical options might be to conduct utilization review work for an insurance company or have a role in research as a medical science liaison. Some details about these options are presented below.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-2026)** Education or Experience
Medical Science Liaison $118,614 13% (medical scientists) Expertise in a therapeutic area
Medical Director, Utilization Review $224,228 -5% (insurance underwriters) Utilization review training and experience
Interventional Radiologist $327,571 11% (physicians and surgeons, all other) Residency
Radiation Oncologist $328,938 11% (physicians and surgeons, all other) Residency

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Medical Science Liaison

Some radiologists may wish to move out of clinical practice. One option for these physicians, particularly if they possess expertise both in business and in medicine, might be that of a medical science liaison. These professionals often work for pharmaceutical companies. Their role is to help interpret the results of medical studies both for individual physicians and for publication in medical journals. They build and maintain relationships between practicing physicians, researchers, laboratory managers, and other critical team members. They may hold seminars to explain options for treatment of various diseases. Medical science liaisons must hold a medical degree, be an expert in a therapeutic area, and be excellent at communicating with a range of audiences.

Medical Director, Utilization Review

Another option for doctors who no longer wish to directly practice medicine is that of a medical director, utilization review. These professionals work for insurance companies and are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of medical care. Some review medical records in order to determine the viability of disability or life insurance claims. Some may also conduct research or advise underwriters without medical training. Physicians in this field often have completed utilization review and risk assessment training. Certification in insurance medicine is also available through the American Board of Insurance Medicine.

Interventional Radiologist

One potential avenue for career advancement for radiologists is to focus on a radiology specialty, such as interventional radiology. Interventional radiologists use imaging techniques to diagnose and treat a range of conditions. They perform a variety of procedures, including needle biopsies, feeding tube placements, and angiographies. These procedures are typically minimally-invasive, so they can reduce the time of hospital stays. A career in interventional radiology requires a five-year residency upon the completion of medical school and a one-year internship.

Radiation Oncologist

Another specialty to consider might be that of a radiation oncologist. Radiation oncologists focus upon the use of therapies, such as hyperthermia and external beam radiotherapy, in the treatment of cancer. They evaluate the therapies that are provided to determine if the cancer is being treated appropriately. Some radiation oncologists may conduct further research on the use of radiation in the treatment of cancer. Individuals who wish to become a radiation oncologist should complete a four-year residency in radiation oncology upon the completion of medical school and a one-year internship. Fellowships are available to further develop radiation oncology skills.


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