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The Expanding Field of Radiology: What Role Do You See for Yourself?

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The role of the radiologist is one that has undergone numerous changes over the years and continues to evolve a rapid pace. Radiologists specialize in the diagnoses of disease through obtaining and interpreting medical images. There are a number of different devices and procedures at the disposal of a radiologist to aid him or her in these diagnoses'. Some images are obtained by using x-ray or other radioactive substances, others through the use of sound waves and the body's natural magnetism. Another sector of radiology focuses on the treatment of certain diseases using radiation (RSNA). Due to vast clinical work and correlated studies, the radiologist may additionally sub-specialize in various areas. Some of these sub-specialties include breast imaging, cardiovascular, Computed Tomography (CT), diagnostic radiology, emergency, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear medicine, pediatric radiology, radiobiology, and Ultrasound (Schenter). After spending a vast amount of time on research and going to internship at the hospital, I have come to realize that my passion in science has greatly intensified. Furthermore, both experiences helped to shape up my future goals more prominently than before, which is coupled with the fact that I have now established a profound interest in radiology, or rather nuclear medicine.

For as long as I remember, I only had one dream in mind, which was to become a doctor when I grow up. As I grew older, my dream did not change; in fact, it only grew more significant. However, the only aspect of my dream that did change was the type of field that I wanted to pursue. At first, I honestly did not have an inkling of an idea as to what kind of a type of doctor I wished to become. Then, I started to lean towards pediatrics and/or neurology. Now, on the other hand, I decided that I want to study nuclear medicine in medical school. This enlightening revelation came about as I began to volunteer in the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. My time spent there has had an amazing impact on me because I believe that this was the time that I truly realized my dream. Nuclear medicine is medical specialty that uses radioactive substances, or radiopharmaceuticals, combined with imaging techniques to diagnose and treat injury or disease. This particular branch in radiology is probably the only field I know of thus far that applies to all science, such as chemistry, biology, and physics. With that noted, I was inclined to learn more about it because of my love for science in general, and knowing what I know now is all due to my mentor at the hospital.

My mentor is a renowned physician in the Department of Nuclear Medicine. He paved the way for me to realize that this is what I truly want for my future. Due to my mentor, I learned that the field of nuclear medicine emerged in the 1930s, when researchers began producing radioactive phosphorus in a machine called a cyclotron and using it to treat patients with blood disorders. The invention of the nuclear reactor in 1940 enabled scientists to generate nuclear substances (including those used in medicine) with far greater ease. A significant step in nuclear medicine occurred in 1946, when treatment with radioactive iodine completely stopped the spread of thyroid cancer in a patient. The earliest imaging devices were invented in the 1950s, but complex diagnostic applications were not possible until computers were integrated with these systems in the 1960s. The advent of PET and MRI technology in the 1970s transformed the field, enabling physicians to record the structure and function of virtually every organ in the body--including the brain and spleen, the gastrointestinal tract, and even developing tumors. Radiopharmaceuticals emerged as a specialized field in the 1980s, yielding the development

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