Becoming a Cardiovascular Radiologist in 5 Steps
Cardiovascular radiologists are medical doctors who produce and analyze images of the heart and circulatory system. Find out what it takes to become a cardiovascular radiologist.
What is a Cardiovascular Radiologist?
Cardiovascular radiologists assess and treat vascular diseases by using radiation to create images of the human circulatory system. After reviewing these images, they can determine any problems and possible treatments. Their work is primarily diagnostic, but they can also conduct non-invasive treatments. Students can become cardiovascular radiologists after completing a bachelor's degree, medical school, a 4-year residency and one year in a fellowship. Additionally, all doctors must pass a licensure exam. Below, the table provides some detailed information about this career:
|Education Field of Study||Radiology residency|
|Key Responsibilities||Diagnose and treat diseases by reviewing images created by radiation|
|Licensure Requirements||All states require licensure|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||7% growth (for all physicians and surgeons)|
|Median Salary (2019)**||$344,884 annually (for all interventional radiologists)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Step 1: Complete Undergraduate Education
Completing a bachelor's degree in a field of science, such as physics, biology or chemistry, is the best preparation for medical school, according to the American Medical Association. Coursework in mathematics and English are also excellent preparation, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. While near the end of your undergraduate degree program, you can begin preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which you must take before applying to medical school.
Step 2: Attend Medical School
To become a doctor, you must complete a 4-year medical degree from an accredited allopathic or osteopathic medicine program. In either program, you'll take courses in physiology, microbiology, biochemistry and pathology. You will also gain exposure to laboratory work and become familiar with x-ray and other radiation technologies. Time should be spent toward the end of medical school locating a radiology residency.
Step 3: Begin the Licensure Process
The process of becoming a licensed physician begins in medical school. Although you can complete the first two parts of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) at any point during medical school, the Federation of State Medical Boards and National Board of Medical Examiners states that most medical students complete the first step of the USMLE at the end of the second year of medical school. The second step exams are typically completed at the end of the fourth year of medical school, and the last step of the licensing process is typically completed during a residency program.
Step 4: Complete a Residency
According to the Radiological Society of North America, Inc., radiologists complete an internship, which is typically the first year of a residency program, and then spend four more years in a radiology residency. This allows doctors to gain first-hand experience in diagnosing and treating patients under the supervision of seasoned radiologists. This general residency precedes focused work in cardiovascular radiology. Future cardiovascular radiologists must complete this general residency and pass board exams in radiology before pursuing their subspecialty.
Step 5: Complete a Fellowship
Cardiovascular radiologists spend one year completing a fellowship in their subspecialty after four years of residency in general radiology. Cardiovascular radiologists are then certified to practice cardiovascular radiology as independent specialists.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
For individuals with an interest in radiology, there are a number of other radiology related careers. Diagnostic medical sonographers, cardiovascular technologists and radiation therapists are professions that involve taking radiologic images of various parts of the body or administering radiation. Associate degrees are only required for these careers. There are also a number of other careers in the medical world that an individual could pursue depending on their interests. Surgeons, pediatricians or general practitioners are similar in nature and also require a doctorate.