How to Become a Pediatric Radiologist in 5 Steps

Pediatric radiologists diagnose medical conditions in infants and children by studying diagnostic images, like X-rays, MRI scans and computed tomography scans. After four years of medical school, you'll need to complete a 4-year diagnostic radiology residency and finish a 1- or 2-year fellowship. Read on for more details about the education, licensure and certification needed for this career. Schools offering Biomedical Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists utilize medical imaging to diagnose the diseases and injuries of children. O*Net Online reports that pediatric radiologists use a diverse range of technology, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, ultrasound, X-ray, positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) to produce diagnostic images (www.onetonline.org). As a pediatric radiologist, you'll analyze these images to determine the best treatment plan for sick or injured children and infants.

Step 1: Go to College

The first step to becoming any kind of doctor is to attend college. Many colleges offer bachelor's degree programs in radiological sciences. These programs tend to be for people who want to become a technician of one of the radiological tests. However, they do provide some of the necessary courses that you might find in an alternative pre-med program, such as chemistry, biology, anatomy, medical terminology, health assessment and pathology. Otherwise, consider a pre-med program.

Step 2: Take the MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test, or the MCAT, is an essential part of applying to medical school. This exam is offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at testing centers across the nation (www.aamc.org). The multiple-choice exam tests you on your verbal reasoning, writing skills and knowledge of the sciences.

Step 3: Attend Medical School

You must first attend medical school to become a pediatric radiologist. A medical program trains you in medical sciences. In general, you'll learn how to be a physician with no specific specialty. Along with classroom lectures, you'll research case studies, practice medical scenarios and complete clinical rotations.

Step 4: Complete Residency and Fellowship

After medical school, you'll spend several years in a residency and fellowship. This is a time in which you gain firsthand experience at hospitals or clinics analyzing medical images and performing diagnoses. Some hospitals allow you to begin specializing in pediatric radiology, but for the most part you'll focus your time on diagnostic radiology.

After finishing a 4-year residency in diagnostic radiology, you must complete a 1- or 2-year fellowship in pediatric radiology. This time is spent mastering the diseases typical among children.

Step 5: Consider Becoming Certified

The American Board of Radiology offers optional board certification in both diagnostic and pediatric radiology (www.theabr.org). You must earn initial certification in diagnostic radiology prior to earning initial certification in pediatric radiology. Passing either exam certifies you for ten years. The certification exams, which question your knowledge and qualifications, are given over a computer.

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