How to become a radiologist?

The world is on track of constant evolution. From skyscrapers in Newyork to bullet trains in Japan, modern man has conquered time and space. This advancement in science and technology has impacted almost all fields including the branch of medicine. In fact, it is only right to say that technology has revolutionised modern medicine. 

Of all the advancements that made modern medicine more efficient, the impact of radio imaging technology occupies a special place. Doctors no longer have to depend on observable symptoms on the outside but are capable of looking inside the body using these techniques.

But are all doctors capable of using radiology techniques for diagnosis? ‘No’ would be the answer. The doctors who are trained to make use of radio imaging technology for diagnosis are called Radiologists. Through this article, we would like to discuss with you the journey towards becoming a radiologist. 

Who is a radiologist?

Radiologists are medical doctors who are trained to look through your skin to identify issues with the use of radiology procedures. They specialize in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging techniques such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and ultrasound. 

How to become a radiologist?

Now let’s get to the part everyone wants to know. How to become a radiologist? As I already mentioned, Radiologists are doctors who specialise in radiology. Unlike radiology technologists or radiographers, they are trained to read medical images and recommend diagnosis. So, their journey till opting for specialisation in radiology is the same as that of an MBBS graduate. Now, let’s look at it, step by step.

Step 1: HSE

This is common knowledge. Any student who wishes to go for medical courses should take up science stream with physics, chemistry and biology as a compulsory subjects for their higher secondary education. That’s not it. As we all know, getting a medical seat is one of the hardest things in India, unless you are a millionaire. So, you need to do really well in academics during your HSE to keep yourself in the competition. 

Step 2: NEET (UG)

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Under Graduate (NEET (UG)) is a national level entrance test for admissions to undergraduate programs offered by medical and dental colleges in India. It is one of the most competitive exams in the country and is conducted by NTA (National testing agency). The exam has separate sections of physics, chemistry and biology. NEET is one of the most popular entrance exams that happens in the country and I don’t think there is any need for me to tell you how tough it is. Students are required to obtain at least 50th minimum qualifying percentile to be considered for an MBBS seat. Intense preparation is an essential requirement to clear NEET.

Step 3: MBBS

Once you clear NEET and counselling, secure admission for MBBS. As we all know, it is the most sought out undergraduate medical course in the country. The candidates who take up this program go through 4.5 years of academic training followed by a one-year compulsory rotating internship in hospitals, health centres, and health camps organised by non-profit organisations (NGOs).

The curriculum covers subjects such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathology as well as community health & medicine, paediatrics, and surgery. On successful completion of this course, one can register themselves under the Medical Council of India (MCI) and become a certified medical practitioner who is qualified to practice as a medical doctor. From here, they can either start practising in different medical roles or go for masters and specialise in their area of interest. The second option is what you must be doing if the plan is to become a radiologist. 

Step 3: Radiology specialisation

A radiologist is a doctor who is qualified to read medical images and suggest diagnosis based on that. Once you are an MBBS graduate, the next step towards becoming a radiologist is to specialise in Radiology. There are two routes you can take up. Either go for a post-graduate medical degree (MD) in radiology/radio diagnosis or DNB radiology. Both the programs will qualify you to practise as a radiologist. 

MD in Radiology/ Radio Diagnosis

As I already said, Radiology is the field of study that deals with medical imaging technologies such as MRIs and X-rays used in the diagnosis of medical issues. An MD in radiology is a postgraduate degree program in the field of medicine. The minimum requirement to apply for admissions to this course is to have completed the MBBS program with at least 50 percent marks. This 3-year program intends to equip students with in-depth knowledge of the science behind radiology technology. The curriculum covers subjects such as X-Ray technology, Radiation and Matter, Radiation Detection and Measurement, Radiography, Radio Physics, Special Radiography, Computed Tomography, Ultrasonography, Fluoroscopy, etc.

Many reputed institutions offer MD in radiology programs. The course fee varies in different institutions. Generally, government institutions charge less compared to private colleges. But still, be ready to shed more than a few lakhs if you are planning to go for this postgraduate medical program. 

Few of the institutions that offer MD in radiology are

  • All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi
  • St Johns Medical College, Bangalore
  • Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi
  • Calicut Medical College, Calicut
  • Dr D Y Patil Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Pune
  • Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry
  • Madras Medical College, Chennai
  • Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad

Again, the admissions are through national level entrance tests. You’ve to clear NEET (post-graduate). Though the number of candidates appearing for NEET (Post-graduate) is usually less when compared to NEET (UG), it’s still going to be a tough nut to crack.

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DNB radiology

Unlike MD, DNB radiology is not a very popular tag you will see after a doctor’s name. It’s true that this qualification is comparatively less popular, but is actually equivalent in all respects to MD in radiodiagnosis. This 3-year training course in radiology can be taken up by students who have completed their MBBS program. The curriculum covers topics such as Physics related to Radio diagnosis, Radiography and Processing techniques, Anatomy, X-ray technology, pathology, etc.

Not many institutions in the country offer DNB radiology programs. Some of them are:

  • Safdarjung hospital, Delhi
  • Sir Ganga Ram hospital, Delhi
  • Apollo Hospital, Chennai
  • Kovai Medical College, Tamil Nadu
  • Army Base Hospital, Delhi

The admissions to DNB radiology programs are through national level entrance tests. You’ve to clear DNB CET to be considered for the admissions counselling. Diplomate of National Board Centralized Entrance Test-Super Specialty (DNB CET) is conducted twice a year by National boards of Exam (NBE). The course fee for DNB programs is usually lower than MD programs. 

Conclusion

So, that’s it folks. I believe I was able to give you all necessary information about how to become a radiologist. But one thing you need to keep in mind is the difference between a radiologist and radiographer. While a radiographer is someone who operates a scanning machine, a radiologist is a medical doctor who has specialised in radiology. I will write a detailed article about the differences between these two professions soon. Till then, if you need any further information, feel free to make use of our free chat service. The link is available below this article.

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