The advancement of medical technology has seen radiology jobs become some of the most essential. Radiologists are medically qualified doctors specialising in diagnosing and investigating various conditions and diseases.
What is a radiologist?
Radiologists are qualified doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and investigation of a variety of conditions and diseases. Radiologists are responsible for reporting imaging procedures used in diagnosing medical conditions. Radiologists also can perform interventional procedures.
Radiologists will have several different types of imaging techniques to specialise in, including:
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Nuclear imaging
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
Radiologists also assess and support individuals through the procedures, undertake invasive techniques and write reports. Radiologists also manage the health and safety of the patients and team by minimising radiation exposure. Sometimes, radiologists teach junior staff and conduct audits and research.
Radiologists also specialise in specific types of radiology. The most common types of radiology are:
- Head and neck
It is also possible to specialise in multiple forms of radiology, working as a general clinical radiologist.
Finding a career as a radiologist will be near impossible without a degree of some kind.
A radiologist will have a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities may change as you move through the ranks and can change depending on where you work.
The most common responsibilities in a radiographer role are:
- Communicate with other medical and non-medical staff to ensure high-quality patient care.
- Diagnose various medical conditions and diseases using images.
- Ensure the safety of patients and healthcare professionals by minimising radiation exposure.
- Examine the patient’s medical history and previous imaging studies.
- Perform minimally invasive techniques to help with treatments throughout the body.
- Provide specialist advice and guidance to other doctors and medical staff from different specialities.
- Support and assess patients during diagnostic and interventional radiology procedures.
- Teach junior staff, conduct audits, and engage in research.
- Write imaging reports and present cases at multidisciplinary team meetings.
As you move into more senior roles, you may be asked to take on additional responsibilities. This could be training new radiologists, managing budgets for departments, liaising with different department heads or sourcing new equipment.
Your salary will depend on several key factors. Those who work in London generally have a better chance at a higher salary than those in other areas. Your qualifications can also factor into your earning potential. Those with a postgraduate degree will have a higher salary entry point than those with an undergraduate degree. Another critical factor in your salary is which type of radiology you choose to specialise in.
When starting, you will likely be a junior hospital trainee. At this level, you can expect to be earning a radiology salary of around £29,000, which may also include a weekend allowance for those on call.
If you work for the NHS, your pay will largely be affected by the Agenda for Change pay scale. A radiologist will typically earn around £27,000 at this level, though that figure will rise.
Your radiologist's salary becomes potentially lucrative once you move into more senior roles. As a senior consultant radiologist, you may earn as high as £55,000.
Finding a career as a radiologist will be near impossible without a degree of some kind. Any undergraduate or postgraduate degrees that you study for will need to be recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC).
The best subjects to study for a radiologist are:
After this, you will need to complete a two-year foundation training programme. This is a requirement for most medical graduates and will give you experience working in hospitals and, hopefully, the radiology department.
Training and development
Your training and development will most likely be handled by your employer. Those working for the NHS will have easier access to radiology training schemes, though those working for private employers may have more money available for more expensive training courses.
After completing your foundation training programme, you can be awarded the Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC). With the FPCC, you can apply for registration as a doctor with the GMC.
Work experience is highly recommended for this and other medical roles.
Registration with professional organisations is a good way to gain access to more training courses. Organisations such as the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), British Society of Interventional Radiology (BSIR), the GMC or the British Institute of Radiology (BIR) are essential for aspiring radiologists as they offer a range of different training programmes, lectures and assistance with continuing professional developments (CPD).
A CPD is a professional requirement in this role. Those who register with the GMC and wish to remain a part of it, must complete one every year.
Your other training choices will be down to you. You may decide to carry out a radiology speciality training programme, which will help you specialise in specific radiology areas. Training usually takes five years and has the option for a sixth for those who wish to specialise in interventional radiology.
There are several key skills needed to become a successful radiologist. The most common skills needed are:
- A comprehensive understanding of various medical specialities.
- A discerning eye and aptitude for observing and noting details.
- A strong fascination with the fields of anatomy, physiology, and pathology.
- A thorough comprehension of general medicine and surgical procedures.
- Adept written communication skills for composing accurate reports.
- Exceptional verbal communication abilities for interacting with patients and collaborating with colleagues and other healthcare professionals.
- Proficiency in problem-solving.
- Skilled hand movements for specific job responsibilities.
- Strong teamwork abilities and leadership potential.
- The ability to adapt and be flexible in changing work environments.
- The ability to think critically and analyse information.
- The capability to handle multiple tasks and work well under pressure.
It is possible to enhance your skills through further training and development.
Work experience is highly recommended for this and other medical roles. Most medical degrees will only allow students to sit the course with paid or voluntary work under their belt. Working in a doctor’s surgery or nursing home will be essential, as will shadowing a doctor or other medical professional. The GMC, BIR and BSIR will likely have vacancies listed on their site.
It is also possible to gain work experience when studying for your degree. This will be a little more tricky, as you will need to balance your studies with your work; however, it may be easier for those studying a course that includes a placement year.
Radiologists are qualified doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and investigation of a variety of conditions and diseases.
There are plenty of career prospects for radiologists on their journey. To begin with, you will start as a radiology consultant. While working as a consultant, you’ll gain more experience and take on more responsibilities, allowing you to apply for a senior consultancy role or work within larger departments and hospitals. Radiologists can also work in higher management positions due to their experience working with many departments.
Another option is to work within the private sector or government agencies or directing scientific and professional societies. The Society of Radiologists in Training (SRT) is a non-profit organisation which was set up by the Royal College of Radiologists is run by radiology trainees to promote education and training within the UK and is always looking for radiologists to help train the next generation of radiologists.
Many radiologists move into teaching or general education. At this level, you will need to have studied a PGCE degree before you will be allowed to teach.