Delving Into the Radiology Major
Each individual online school will vary in terms of the exact curriculum and will correlate with the level of degree being pursued, but each school is designed to at the very minimum teach students the core principles of radiology and properly prepare students for certification. Without certification, one may not practice in the field of radiology.
With that said, in the beginning students will be required to take an abundant of general science course such as biology, anatomy and physiology to learn the foundational frame work for which radiology is established on. The bulk of the general science material will be acquired from online lectures, notes and by reading textbooks. Online students will then move on to take courses that are specifically tailored to teach students about X-ray tools and equipment, medical law and ethics, patient care and radiation protection.
In addition to academic coursework, students are also required to participate in clinical course work. While there are in fact exceptions to the rule, most high quality online radiology programs will be “hybrids.” This means students will be required to complete an in-person component to earn their degree.
Typically this in-person component is fulfilled by participating in an preceptorship. An preceptorship is usually considered the student’s final cap stone project and requires a student to shadow a practicing radiologist or radiologist technician to get some hands-on experience with patient care and equipment. Other times, an in-person component means that a student must report on a bi-weekly basis to the online school’s brick-and-mortar building or another approved facility to complete experiments, play with equipment and take exams with a proctor.
Earning an online associate degree in radiology typically takes about two years to complete and is a common degree pursued by those wanting to get into this particular field. Participating in an associate radiology degree online program will teach students the foundational skills they need to launch their career or will give them the knowledge needed to continue their education and become full-fledged radiologists.
Radiologists are not to be confused with a radiologic technician for example. Radiologists are doctors that specializes in radiology and have to complete medical school. With that said, those pursuing their associate degrees can expect to take the following courses: physics, anatomy, radiation science, pathophysiology, patient studies, medical terminology, computed tomography, diagnostic radiography, radiology equipment operation, image exposure and quality control and quality analysis just to name a few.
Associate degree seekers will also be required to participate in an preceptorship which provides students with the opportunity to gain real-life, hands-on learning experience where they can apply the theories and practices they learn online in the real world under a supervised professional.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in radiology typically takes about four years to complete. Similar to when enrolling in an associate degree program, bachelor’s degree students will also learn the fundamental principles in the subject of radiology which will help prepare them to either continue their education to become radiologists, instructors, earn an administrative title, or go directly into the workforce.
However, the true difference is that if a bachelor degree holder decides to go straight into the workforce, he or she will be more equipped to earn immediate leadership and managerial positions. For example, he or she could become Lead Radiologic Technologist, Radiology Program Director, or Radiology Trainer. And of course with a leadership role comes more responsibility, but typically a boost in pay as well.
With that said, those pursuing a bachelor degree can expect to take principle core courses and a few advanced courses such as the following (note titles may vary):principles of quality management, sectional anatomy, magnetic resonance imaging, medical imaging in the digital environment, patient care issues, mammography, and legal and ethical aspects of health care.
Earning an online master’s degree in radiology normally takes about two years to complete, totaling about six years of schooling. Those who choose to participate in a master’s degree program do so because they aspire to be radiologic administrators, assistants and educators.
While they are very few online schools that offer master degrees in radiology, they do exist. Depending on which career title a student decides to pursue, one can expect to take any of the following courses: advanced anatomy and pharmacology courses; health physics; patient assessment and patient management; fluoroscopy; radiobiology; interventional procedures; and advanced pathophysiology. In addition, master degree seekers will be required to take an abundant of courses relating to computer technology and clinical research.
Like with the other degrees, a student must enroll as a hybrid student in order to complete labs and must also participate in an preceptorship to get hands-on experience. Even if one took a preceptorship while earning a bachelor degree in the same subject, a master degree seeker must complete at least 24 additional hours of direct contact with patients.
Earning a doctorate degree in radiology typically takes anywhere from an additional three to five years to complete after earning a master’s degree. It varies depending on the program. Like online master degrees, online doctorate degrees are really scarce since programs are so research-oriented and require students to complete extensive lab work in person and get adequate hands-on experience.
Granted, the few online programs that do exist will require students to enroll as hybrid students to fulfill all necessary hands-on requirements, but be assured online doctorate programs in radiology do exist. With that said, those who pursue a doctorate degree in radiology typically do so because they aspire to become professors and teach the subject at a collegiate level or want to work in the science industry aspect of radiology and become a researcher.
Specific courses will vary depending on which part of the industry the student wishes to go into, but students can expect to take advanced courses in radiotherapy, medical, nuclear, and health physics, in addition to the following courses: radiation oncology, magnetic resonance imaging, and pediatric or geriatric radiation therapy just to name a few. Students will also be expected to complete a dissertation.
Supplementing Your Radiology Major
Despite the fact that radiology is already a specialized field in medicine, some students are still able to tailor their studies even further and select concentrations that are designed to teach students about specific sub genres of radiology, including imaging and treatments. The options of concentrations will vary depending on the specific program, online school, and level of degree being pursued, but some common concentration choices for undergraduate degrees typically include the following: x-ray technology, mammography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized axial tomography (CAT Scan), and nuclear medicine and radiation therapy.
Those pursuing graduate degrees will be able to select concentrations that are more advanced. Some options typically include: neuroscience radiation, ionizing radiation, medical dosimetry, cardiovascular radiologic technology, vascular interventional radiography, dental radiography and radiologic biology or radiologic physics.
In addition, students also usually have the option to select a minor that could potentially increase their skills and thus their marketability. For example, a popular minor that correlates with radiology majors is hospital management or healthcare administration. These minors will be able to mold radiology majors into an extremely versatile employee since not only will they know how to properly use radiology equipment, but they will also be equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead a team of healthcare professionals. For example, students will learn how to be effective communicators, coordinators and decision makers.
Another minor that radiology majors might not think of is psychology. Psychology is a great choice because students will be able to learn how to deal with patients who may suffer with psychological problems and will give them the skills they need in order to pick up on body language clues — an important skill one needs to have in order to make proper evaluations and diagnosis, especially with patients who may try to hide the truth on how they acquired their internal injuries.
Learn More About the Radiology Major
The Radiology Major in the Job Market
After completing a radiology program, graduates will possess the skills needed to become successful healthcare professionals in radiology, including how to properly use x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, CAT scans and other imaging and diagnostic machines and equipment that can ultimately improve and save a patient’s life. Graduates will also possess additional skills that employers seek for in a job applicant simply by the nature of an earning a degree online.
For example, online graduates will be more independent since they are responsible for completing assignments with little or no supervision from professors and classmates, they will have better time managements skills (especially if one earned their degree while balancing a job and or family) and they will have a better knack at computers. Graduates who have a high endurance and those who are able to stand on their feet all day long and move heavy equipment/patients will also hold more weight over other applicants.
With that said, graduates of online radiology degree programs will be happy to learn that their job prospects are solid through the year 2016 at least. Those with a higher level of education and who pursued certification will find more job openings, especially if they are familiar with CT, MR and mammography imaging systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 15% increase in the number of jobs available to radiologic technicians until 2016, and these professionals will find new positions opening at diagnostic imaging centers and other outpatient care centers, as well as at hospitals.
Radiologic technicians who work at medical and diagnostic labs will earn the highest average salary according to the BLS, while those who work at hospitals will earn the second highest average and doctors’ offices will pay the third highest average salaries. Because it is such a technical field, professionals who make an effort to stay on top of all of the emerging technology systems will stand out amongst the competition.
Other common career choices also include becoming a CT technologist, MRI technician, sonographer, nuclear medicine technologist and radiation therapy technologist. However, even if you possess all of the proper skills, traits and qualities, sometimes it’s difficult to find job openings. A good place to start is to scour online job listings such as those published on sites like HotRadiologyJobs, Job Circle, and Simply Hired. Other ways to find employment is to attend job fairs, join associations and corporations, hire recruiters, look through directories, job hotlines, and contact former professors and preceptorship advisors.