Why do radiologists need to be full MDs?

Sure. But not every hospital is located in a big city and has access to every type of specialist all the time. I worked for many years in a well-run hospital where the radiologist came in from the city twice a week only. To read and type reports on tests often done three days before. If I was trying to interpret something equivocal on an X-ray or ultrasound, I would sometimes ask the advice of the tech at the time I saw the film, since I needed to act now and a report three days later would be of limited benefit. I did this at my own risk (techs always disclaim) and was free to ignore their opinion. But the experienced ones nearly always knew what was what. They do not usually receive credit for this, but many are very astute indeed.

When a doctor is always available, techs are discouraged - for good reasons - from giving advice. The technology to send images for remote interpretation has, of course, improved immensely over the last few decades. An experienced (emergency) nurse also has a very good idea of what needs to be done and what might be going on.

I worked in a small rural hospital. We did not have a radiologist, all of our imaging was read in another city (nights and holidays they were read in Australia.) Or docs at times relied on the techs for a preliminary idea of complex images while waiting for the official read.

Doctors work with a lot of people who have various amounts of knowledge and experience. Over time they learn to trust certain people, and there are certainly nurse and rad tech opinions which in limited cases I value as highly as a doctor. They may not know as much medicine as a doctor but experience is a very valuable teacher too.

I’ve heard that some American, and other first-world, hospitals have contracts with doctors in places like India, who can read them less expensively than their own doctors can. I have read that something like half of the non-pornographic content on the Internet is medical images; is that true?

As for the tech summoning the doctor, I’m thinking of things like the local woman who knew “something was wrong” when she had an early ultrasound and the tech got the radiologist (to make a very long story short, she had naturally conceived triplets) or my former co-worker whose husband, also a pharmacist, volunteered to have a free MRI to test a new machine, and HE knew something was wrong when he saw the looks on the faces of the people running the machine, and reading the results. Within a few days, he underwent the repair of a soon-to-be-dissecting aortic aneurysm.

Based on what I’ve seen and heard, quite a few non-radiologist MDs* think they can adequately interpret radiologic images and make accurate diagnoses.

For obvious things, for example some bone fractures and cases of pneumothorax, they may be correct. When it comes to relatively subtle findings I’d want the pros’ opinions.

*oncologists in particular.

I have read many thousands of films in a place where, if I missed something, there were consequences (generally personally calling the patient and explaining if they needed to take further action). There is no case where I would not want to see the radiologist’s interpretation after having looked at an image, even though I have a pretty good track record. Everybody misses stuff on images, radiologists far less than other doctors.

Four days after you posted your OP and got all these knowledgeable replies, this is your best response to thank people for taking the time to answer you???

I’m sorry; what is it you would find more acceptable?

Along with all the other responses, most people don’t grow up thinking “I want to be a radiologist.” It’s something they decide during medical school, after placements and experience.

So they might end up with some knowledge that never comes up in their eventual job, but that’s the same for every medical doctor except general physicians and maybe one or two other specialities.

I wonder about some of the medical specialties, and how people decide to become, say, podiatrists or whatever.

Oddly enough, when I was pre-med in college, that’s exactly what I was hoping to be (since high school) before I got interested in other professions…

And it was experience that lead you in other directions, I guess. If you’d trained directly as a radiologist somehow, you’d probably not have ended up in a job that you were suited for.

And it’s too important a job for it to be something you’re just sort of stuck in without the skills to move into a different area. (I mean, I guess it’s difficult to change fields if you’ve been practising for a few years post medical school and registration, but there are many years of school etc before that).

I just switched majors after orgo (organic chemistry) and decided to pursue journalism (specifically photography) for some weird reason. Yeah, there’s a left turn for you. I satisfy my radiology itch by vicariously living through my close friend, the interventional radiologist, mentioned above. The reason radiology appealed to me is that it combined my love of the visual, with the physics and science of medical imaging, with the breadth of knowledge required to be a physician. Oh, and the fact that it is one of the highest paid specialities is a bonus; plus there’s a good chance I could have kept reasonable hours. It does seem to be a pretty popular speciality (top 10 in the list here.)

Actually I can understand that, at high school age. I was pretty young when I decided that, if I couldn’t be a famous author or director, I wanted to be a VT editor (and - in a very roundabout way after years in other jobs - that is sort of what I do now). But it wasn’t elementary school age because I didn’t know that job existed. I only knew about it at all from reading the crew credits on TV shows.

When I said “growing up thinking I want to be a radiologist” I was thinking from younger than high school really, because high school is already 15 years old. I think most elementary school kids would just want to be a doctor.