Radiology Professions Video: Career Options and Educational Requirements

Radiology Professions Video: Career Options and Educational Requirements Transcript

X-ray and ultrasound technologies are used by a radiologist to diagnose broken bones, cancers and other illnesses, injuries and diseases. A radiologic nurse cares for patients awaiting or recovering from radiation therapy or radiologic tests. Radiologic technicians operate the equipment and computer software used in MRI and other imaging technologies. A complete medical education and board certification are needed to become a radiologist. However, an associate's or bachelor's degree along with a professional license is acceptable for most positions in radiologic technology or nursing.


Radiology is the field of medicine that uses radiation and radiation therapy to diagnose and treat diseases. Radiation treatment is used to kill cancerous cells. X-rays and MRIs are used to create images of a patient's bones and internal organs. Radiology departments rely on doctors, nurses and technicians working together to effectively treat patients. These different positions require training ranging from an associate's degree to a degree from an accredited medical school. Most positions will also require a license or professional certification.

Job Duties and Skills

Radiologists are physicians who specialize in the use of radioactive imaging technologies, including X-rays, MRIs, fluoroscopy and ultrasounds. Depending on their specialty, they may also use radioactive materials to treat diseases, most commonly cancer. Radiologists spend most of their time reviewing test results, images and scans in order to develop an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendation. They also consult with patients, explaining their treatment options and answering any questions they may have.

Radiologic technicians operate the equipment used in radiologic medicine. They operate MRI and X-ray machines, monitor patients during testing and report results to physicians. Their other duties include keeping patients calm during tests, which requires excellent communication skills. Some technicians also repair and maintain the equipment they use.

Few nurses specialize in radiologic medicine, but those who do provide a valuable service to their patients. These specially trained nurses are able to assist physicians and technicians during procedures and tests. They also monitor patients as they recover and provide family members and patients with any support they may need. Radiologic nurses must have a strong understanding of the principles and uses of radiologic medicine, in addition to excellent communication skills and patient care techniques.

Training Required

The American Board of Radiology offers a certification examination for physicians interested in specializing in Radiology. In addition to obtaining this certification, radiologists must complete all other education and training required of physicians. This includes completion of a bachelor's degree program, a medical doctorate degree program and a four year medical residency program.

Radiologic technicians, the professionals who operate imaging equipment, are required to complete an associate's degree program in Radiologic Technology. These programs include coursework on use of imaging equipment, first aid, professional safety, medical terminology and more. Students will also intern at a local hospital in order to learn patient care techniques from an experienced technician. In 40 states, these professionals are required to pass a state-issued licensing exam before working in a clinical setting.

Nurses interested in specializing in radiologic medicine are encouraged to earn the Certified Radiology Nurse (CRN) certification. This title is given to registered nurses who have passed a written exam and acquired proven experience in the field. Many undergraduate nursing programs currently offer courses in radiologic medicine for interested students. Successful completion of the NCLEX-RN certification exam is required for all nursing positions.

Career Options

It is common for a radiologist to specialize in a specific area of medicine. The specialties include breast imaging, cardiovascular medicine, emergency medicine, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine and more. While having such a specialty is not a necessity, it can increase career opportunities. Similarly, some technicians and radiologic nurses may also develop specialties, often in the use of a specific imaging method, like MRI or X-Ray technologies.

Radiologists rarely work in private practice. Instead, the vast majority are employed by hospitals or larger private clinics. It is also uncommon for radiologic technicians and nurses to work anywhere except for a hospital or private clinic.

If you have an interest in working with specialized medical equipment and helping to diagnose patients in need, a career in radiology may be right for you.


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