Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physicist, is deemed the first radiologist as he produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as x-rays. In many countries termed Roentgen Rays, Roentgen preferred the term x-rays for this technology. X-ray is the term he initially used upon discovery of this new ray with the X referencing the mathematical symbol for the unknown. For his discovery and work with x-rays, Roentgen was the first recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.
Radiologists are medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries using medical imaging techniques, such as X-Rays, Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Nuclear Medicine, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Ultrasound.
Radiologists graduate from accredited medical schools, pass a licensing examination, and then go on to complete a residency of at least four years of unique post-graduate medical education in, among other topics:
- Appropriate performance and interpretation of quality radiological and medical imaging examinations
- Performance of image guided procedures
- Radiation safety and protection
These physicians often complete a fellowship — one to two additional years of specialized training in a particular subspecialty of radiology, such as breast imaging, cardiovascular radiology or nuclear medicine.
Radiologists are usually board certified by the American Board of Radiology (for a doctor of medicine) or the American Osteopathic Board of Radiology (for an osteopathic doctor); an indication of a high level of training, and demonstrated excellence in the field.
Radiological procedures are medically prescribed and should only be conducted by appropriately trained and certified physicians under medically necessary circumstances. Radiologists have four to six years of unique, specific, post–medical school training that includes radiation safety and ensure the optimal performance of radiological procedures and interpretation of medical images.
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