How do I Become a Neuroradiologist?

Neuroradiologists receive highly specialized training in order to study and diagnose images associated with the head, brain, neck, and spine. While the requirements to become a neuroradiologist vary among and even sometimes within countries, a career in neuroradiology typically requires many years of study, including a bachelor's degree and a medical degree. After the requisite schooling, additional training in the form of internships, residencies, and fellowships are required in the United States. Similar experiential requirements are imposed in other countries as well.

To become a neuroradiologist, a medical degree is required. In the United States, this is obtained by successfully completing four years of undergraduate studies and four years of medical school. It's generally recommended that the major of the undergraduate degree be in a science such as biology. The medical degree will usually cover general medicine concepts as well as some specialty emphasis in radiology and neurology.

After medical school comes the training. A one-year internship follows medical school, along with four years of residency training in radiology. The American Board of Radiology holds an examination process upon the completion of these studies.

Fellowship training to become a neuroradiologist follows. In the United States, a select number of students are admitted each year into neuroradiology programs. While some accept only radiology candidates, there are those programs that accept both radiologists and neurosurgeons.

There are a variety of neuroradiology subspecialties which require further education and training. Some of these include interventional neuroradiology, pediatric neuroradiology, and spine neuroradiology. As an example, interventional neuroradiology, which focuses on managing patients' pain via palliative and therapeutic procedures, requires an additional one to two years of training.

The neuroradiologist specializes in both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting these systems is almost always formulated, at least in part, from the results a neuroradiologist provides. This expert is a vital part of the healthcare process.

Specialists that neuroradiologists frequently work with include neurologists, internists, neurosurgeons, and radiation therapists. Being able to distinguish and determine results of a CT scan, MRI scan, angiogram, and x-rays of the brain, spinal column, face, neck, and peripheral nerves all fall within the domain of the neuroradiologist. Additionally, an ability to collaborate with colleagues with expertise in other specialties, as well as coworkers with different levels of education and responsibility, like nurses and medical support staff, mean that good social skills are helpful to become a neuroradiologist.

The American Society of Neuroradiology and the American Board of Radiology are two key organizations interested students might explore in pursuit of a career in neuroradiology. Typical work environments include emergency rooms, hospitals, medical universities, and private medical offices. Those interested in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders, stroke, neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, and spinal disease may consider a career as a neuroradiologist to be both lucrative and rewarding.

In addition to the extensive schooling and training required to become a neuroradiologist, potential members of this field should have a host of skills to become successful. Attention to detail is clearly important when working in any medical field, including when working with the central nervous system. Not only are interpersonal skills important in terms of work relationships, but a good bedside manner is important as neuroradiologists provide direct patient care.

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