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When they’re young, all boys want X-ray vision so they can see the people inside buildings and the bones inside bodies. Unless you’re Superman, however, the only way to get X-ray vision is to become a Radiologist — a medical professional who’s specially trained to capture and interpret medical images.
As a Radiologist, you’re employed by hospitals and clinics, and you’re paid to study pictures of bones, organs, and blood vessels, taken using X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound machines. Your goal is to discover and diagnose problems, including broken bones and fractures, as well as osteoporosis, heart disease, appendicitis, and scores of other diseases and conditions, such as breast, lung, brain, and prostate cancer.
Although Radiology Technicians typically perform the actual imaging, you supervise and manage the entire process, which sometimes includes giving patients barium (letting you X-ray their digestive tract) or injecting them with radioactive tracers (letting you X-ray their blood flow).
Ultimately, though, your main responsibility as a Radiologist isn’t taking pictures; it’s reviewing them, as reading medical images requires a trained eye that knows what “healthy” and “unhealthy” look like. Using that eye, you identify a patient’s medical problems, then consult with the patient’s Doctor on recommended treatment options.
Although you may specialize in a type of radiology — a Cardiovascular Radiologist, for instance, specializes in imaging of the vascular system, and a Genitourinary Radiologist in imaging of the reproductive and urinary tracts — your job is always this: to win a life-or-death game of medical “I Spy.”