A Radiologist is a technically trained professional who operates ultrasonic imaging devices. Their training is direct and their financial compensation is quite high because they are tasked with a high degree of responsibility and individual judgment within the diagnostic medical field. Their official designation is in the field of “diagnostic medical sonography”.
What Is Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
Sonography in general refers to the use of sound to study the outside world. Diagnostic medical sonography uses high frequency sound waves – much higher than the range of human hearing – to penetrate the human body. The internal organs, structures, blood vessels and other functioning systems within the body will absorb and reflect the sound waves differently, depending on their density, motion and other factors.
A specially designed Radiology machine will interpret the resulting echoes coming back from the internal organs and other structures, and will create images – pictures or dynamic videos – of the organs as they are working within the body.
The specialized training of the Radiologist allows for interpretation of these images to detect any defects, imperfections or diseases.
Why Are Radiologists Valuable?
Radiologists are involved in a technology that is considered much safer than the older technology of x-rays, and much less expensive than MRI or CAT scans. That’s why a Radiologist is a highly valued medical assistant and can command salaries above $65,000 and in many cases much higher, depending on experience and location.
How Do You Become a Radiologist?
A minimum two year specialized associates degree is necessary to become a Radiologist. A typical course will include classes in physiology, anatomy, medical ethics, instrumentation, basic physics, and patient care. There are also four year bachelor courses for Radiologists, but the two year course is the more prevalent.
If you are interested in becoming a Radiologist, you should choose a program that is CAAHEP certified. Schools or hospitals that are certified by CAAHEP – “Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs” – will allow you to take your examinations to become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Radiologist (RDMS). Only an RDMS can be considered for the high level full time career positions in the sonographic field.
Within the field of diagnostic medical sonography there are many specialties. The most well known specialty is obstetric and gynecological sonography, which produces images of the female reproductive system and a growing, functioning fetus.
But there are also other, perhaps less well-known specialties:
Nuerosonography – Images of the nervous system, includingthe brain.
Cardiac Sonography – Images of the heart and surrounding arteries.
Abdominal Sonography – Images of the pancreas, kidneys, liver and other internal organs.
Breast Sonography – This specialty aids mammography in the detection of cancerous or benign tumors of the breast.
An aspiring Radiologist can become credentialed in more than one specialty, although in that case a four year bachelors degree, rather than the two year associates degree would be recommended.
Outlook and Environment
Sonography has a bright future, with job opportunities expected to grow significantly through the coming decade. The technology continues to advance and new applications and new equipment are constantly being developed.
Due to the nature of this field, any Radiologist can expect to work in a clean hospital or clinical environment, far from the chaos or distress prevalent in an emergency room. Some Radiologists are involved in mobile clinics which can bring the sonographic equipment to different environments.
All in all, sonography is still expanding and Radiologists can look forward to an interesting, demanding and lucrative future.