The cutting edge field of medical imaging
Radiologists make up a core element of the medical field as medical imagers - when you need an x-ray, a CAT scan or an ultrasound, you'll visit a radiologist.
There's a huge demand for trained radiologists in today's medical field, as wait times for imaging continue to climb. If you like dealing with people and have an interest in medicine and health, a community college radiology program can open the door for a new career.
Radiologists perform a variety of different jobs, from operating and maintaining imaging technology to assessing and diagnosing illness or injury based on the images they take. They work closely with nurses and doctors as part of a team of health specialists who are able to identify and diagnose medical issues.
Radiologists train in many different imaging technologies:
- Projection radiography. Known in layman terms as the x-ray, projection radiography is used to view through things that are less dense, such as skin or other tissue, in order to get an image of denser materials such as bone. Radiologists use x-rays to identify injuries such as broken bones or foreign objects within the body.
- Fluoroscopy. This is a special kind of x-ray that requires patients to swallow a radiocontrast (fluorescent) agent. The fluoroscopy is used to view processes such as blood flow and identify issues like blood clots or tumors.
- CT scanning. More elaborate than a traditional x-ray, CT scans offer medical professionals a 3D view of a patient's internal workings. CT scans are often used when diagnosing brain issues, aneurisms and tumors. They're much more detailed than a traditional x-ray and are often utilized by specialists.
- Ultrasound. Ultrasound images utilize sound waves to picture internal elements. Unlike x-ray imaging, ultrasounds do not use radiation, and hence are perfect for obstetrics. Ultrasounds are also used in delicate areas to identify tumors or other tissue changes.
- MRI. MRI combines a magnetic field with a radio signal to create images of soft tissue. The 3D images produced by MRI technology are now essential to musculoskeletal radiology and neural imaging.
Most radiologic technologists work 40 hours a week, but they often have to work weekends or evenings and be on call. Over half of those employed as radiologic technologists work on a hospital. Although there are some potential health hazards (due to radiation) inherent in this occupation, the risk can be greatly minimized by the use of protective gear.
The average annual salary in the industry is over $40,000.