Do you know what a radiologist does?

A radiologist is a medical doctor who interprets radiology imaging studies. You undergo an imaging study, such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, usually after you visit your doctor with a specific complaint.

Do you know what it takes to become a radiologist?

Becoming a radiologist involves one of the lengthier training regimens in Medicine. The typical pathway starts with four years of college/university, followed by four years of medical school. Afterward, there is one year of training called an Internship, followed by four years of Diagnostic Radiology residency. Finally, many radiologists choose to do a final one or two years of  Fellowship training to obtain a sub-specialty certificate. Fellowships are available in areas such as Interventional Radiology, Pediatric Radiology, Neuroradiology, Women's Imaging, and others.

Do you know that you have a choice when it comes to your radiology imaging?

Recent health care law changes have created much confusion. Suffice it to say, however, that you, as a patient, have more choices and fewer restrictions than ever. For example, you visit your doctor with a complaint of back and leg pain. Your doctor suggests an MRI of the lumbar spine to determine whether a herniated disk is causing your symptoms and gives you a prescription for the study.

You can take that prescription to any imaging center of your choice. You are not limited to the imaging center located "conveniently" in your doctor's building/office. Ask your friends who they trust. Where did they receive prompt attention and courteous care? An imaging study may take less than an hour of your time, but knowing who your radiologist is can make a significant difference in the quality of the interpretation you receive. 

Ask questions of the imaging center such as: 

Is the interpreting doctor a radiologist? Board-certified? Fellowship-trained? If the interpreting physician is not a radiologist, how many similar studies has s/he previously interpreted? Some doctors have an ownership interest in imaging centers. Such ownership is not unethical and perfectly legitimate. But the responsibility is yours to ask your doctor whether the imaging study being requested is medically necessary.

These types of questions help ensure that you are well cared for and that your images are interpreted with the highest quality in mind and at the highest levels of expertise.

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you when you need an imaging study such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound.