Personal Characteristics Needed to Become a Radiologist

You need an eye for detail to be a good radiologist.
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Radiologists are doctors who use technology such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans to see your organs and tissues and help provide a diagnosis for any medical conditions you may have. Radiologists typically don't work with patients personally, but provide diagnoses directly to the doctors supervising patients. Becoming a radiologist takes years of hard work, so it's important to honestly evaluate your personality traits before you embark on this career path.

Intelligence and Perseverance

Doctors must be intelligent enough to be accepted into medical school. You must also have the perseverance to get through med school and the years of residency training required to get your license. To become a radiologist, you'll need to pass the MCAT, graduate from an accredited medical school, which usually takes four years, and be accepted into a radiology residency. These residencies are typically four years long.


If you shirk from competition, then becoming a radiologist might not be the right choice for you. Although the radiology practice itself isn't highly competitive, getting there is becoming increasingly so. According the the University of Pittsburgh's radiology residency program, competition for radiology residency positions nationwide is becoming more and more competitive. This means that you need to be ready to compete as early as college to get into the best med school possible. Then you should strive to make the best possible grades in med school and score well on the Step 1 and Step 2 of the United Stated Medical Licensing Examination. With limited residency positions, only those who score well, make good grades and do well in interviews will get spots. You should have a competitive nature and thrive under pressure.

Problem Solver

The key part of a radiologist's job is looking at little details from body scans and coming up with diagnoses based on the scans and patients' medical histories. You need to be interested in mysteries and be a good problem solver in order to excel as a radiologist. You should be prepared to dig for answers and be OK with spending hours in a lab analyzing every tiny section of a patient's X-ray or CT scan in order to make sure you didn't miss anything that could be potentially significant.

Self Motivated

Although you need to be competitive to become a radiologist, once you're there you should be self motivated and not reliant on interaction with others in order to push you forward. You will have very limited contact with patients themselves. In fact, most of your time will be spent in a laboratory or in your office, analyzing images. You may work long hours on a particular case or irregular times, including weekends. If you thrive on interacting with others on a continuous basis, then you should consider looking into another medical field besides radiology.

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