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What is a radiographer? What is a radiologist?

3-minute read

How do radiographers and radiologists differ?

Many people are confused by the differences between a radiographer and a radiologist.

Radiographers are allied health professionals who take x-rays and other medical images to assist doctors in diagnosing diseases and injuries. They are also known as medical imaging technologists. A radiographer does your scan.

Radiographers complete a university bachelor's degree in medical imaging, medical radiation science or technology which takes 3 or 4 years. Another option is a 2-year master's degree. Students doing the 3-year bachelor's degree also need to do a supervised practice program.

Radiologists are specialist medical doctors trained to interpret x-rays and other medical imaging tests. They diagnose and carry out treatments using ultrasound, x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging technology. A radiologist interprets the findings of your imaging to assist in making a diagnosis.

Radiologists complete at least 5 years of specialist medical radiology training after qualifying as doctors and working for at least 2 years in hospitals.

Radiologists may do further training to become an interventional radiologist, performing image-guided procedures inside a person's body, such as treating cancerous tumours or inserting stents to open up arteries.

Do I need a referral for a radiographer or radiologist?

In general, you will need a referral from a nurse, physiotherapist, general practitioner or specialist for radiological and other imaging tests.

How much do radiographers and radiologists charge?

The amount you will need to pay varies, depending on where you go, the type of imaging, who is referring you and the condition being looked into or treated.

In general, you will not pay anything for common x-rays and ultrasounds. They are largely covered by Medicare. But you may have to pay for more complex tests such as MRI.

Ask what your out-of-pocket costs will be before visiting a radiologist. Also, find out if you need to get a referral from a particular medical professional to facilitate a medicare rebate.

Where do radiographers and radiologists work?

Radiographers and radiologists work closely together in private medical centres, major public and private hospitals and specialist clinics, such as cancer clinics.

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Last reviewed: February 2021

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