Nuclear Medicine is a specialized field in radiology that involves injection or inhalation of small amounts of radioactive tracers or radionuclide to examine the structure and function of the organs so as to treat various chronic and life-threatening diseases. The professionals in this field employ specially designed gamma cameras that detect and image the radiations emitted by the radiotracers injected into the human body. Being interdisciplinary in nature, this field encompasses the elements of radiology and medicine along with other subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Computer Technology. Being one of the important Medical Science courses, we will shed light on the salient features of establishing a career in this field through this blog.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a medical speciality that assesses body functioning and diagnoses and treats disease using radioactive tracers (radiopharmaceuticals). Doctors may follow the passage of these radioactive tracers using specially developed cameras. The most popular imaging modalities in nuclear medicine are single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
Nuclear Medicine Skills Required
Ability to work with technology Nuclear medicine technologists must be experienced using computers and significant pieces of technology equipment.
Analytical abilities Nuclear medicine technologists must have a thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology, and other disciplines, as well as the ability to calculate precise doses.
Compassion. Nuclear medicine techs must be able to comfort and reassure patients who are experiencing physical or mental distress.
I am a meticulous person. To ensure that the right dosage is provided and that the patient is not overexposed to radiation, nuclear medicine technologists must follow strict guidelines.
Interpersonal abilities Nuclear medicine technologists operate as part of a team and contact with patients. They must be able to follow a supervising physician’s directions.
What does Nuclear Medicine Technologist do?
The Nuclear Medicine technologist roles and responsibilities include:
- Making the patient comfortable, gathering important information, explaining the procedure, and responding to the patient’s queries
- Radiopharmaceuticals and medicines are administered for patient imaging and therapeutic operations.
- During the procedure, keep an eye on the patient’s physical state.
- Using advanced computer technology, data is processed and digital photographs are enhanced.
- Providing diagnostic or therapeutic processes with photos, data analysis, and patient information.
- Using photographs to assess the technical quality and instrumentation calibration.
- Trying out new protocols
In order to pursue and work in the field of nuclear medicine, the aspirants need to have certain educational qualifications that form the foundation of advanced studies. Given below are the prerequisites and the degree courses after 12th science through which you can kickstart your career in this discipline:
- The candidates need to have passed their 10+2 level of studies or equivalent in BiPC subjects with Mathematics.
- The applicant must hold a bachelor’s or associate degree in nuclear medicine or related courses such as physics or chemistry to pursue a postgraduation program.
- Further, the graduate must be certified or licensed to be able to start their practice.
Popular Courses to Pursue a Career in Nuclear Medicine
As discussed, a candidate needs to follow a certain specific educational path to build a successful career in this domain. There are a plethora of courses available that offer students a platform to study a multitude of subjects covering various important concepts related to the field. Enlisted are some of these Medical courses:
- BSc/BS in Nuclear Medicine Technology
- BS Radiation Therapy
- Bachelors of Medical Radiation Science (Medical Imaging)
- Bachelors of Medical Radiation Science (Nuclear Medicine)
- MSc Nuclear Medicine
- MSc Medical Imaging
- MSc Medical Physics
- Master of Radiation Therapy
Career Opportunities in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine, as a field, has seen significant growth in the past decade. From identifying new diseases to conducting exhaustive research in order to find the cure, the prospective candidates are familiarised with the important concepts pertinent to this field. Further, the internships and industrial training programs, which form an integral part of the coursework help in the overall skill development of the students. This, in turn, has opened the door to an array of career opportunities for graduates. Given below are the four prominent professions a graduate in this field can work in:
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
A Nuclear Medicine Technologist is a highly specialized and qualified professional who administers radiopharmaceuticals, performs imaging procedures, and analyzes biological specimens. While performing their operations, the technologist is responsible for understanding the medical history of the patient and examining the physical condition. By garnering experience in this profile, one can also work as a research technologist, hospital administrator, technologist program educator or research and development specialist in hospitals, universities, etc.
Nuclear Medicine Radiologist
A Nuclear Medicine Radiologist or Nuclear Radiologist is an expert who uses radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat various diseases. They typically inject the radioactive substances into the veins of the patient or provide oral medications and subsequently analyze the image of the body organs generated.
These professionals are responsible for preparing the radioactive tracers/drugs or radiopharmaceuticals to be administered to the patient. They control the inventory of such drugs, ensure the quality and availability of various instruments and equipment and provide consultation services to the patients regarding the issues of health and safety with respect to nuclear medicine.
Also Read: Bachelor of Pharmacy
Nuclear Medicine Physicist
Nuclear Medicine Physicist is one of the most popular profiles in this field, the responsibilities of which include designing and delivering medicines, diagnosing diseases, and providing suitable treatment for them. Ensuring safe and effective usage of the nuclear medicinal procedures, these professionals use their sound knowledge in physics, technology, and mathematics to examine the radiation protection for a patient. They make sure that the equipment and other systems used will produce the desired diagnosis and recognize issues in clinical images and design the treatment to combat the problem accordingly.
Areas of Employment
Now that you are familiar with the most popular work profiles in this field, enlisted are the various areas of employment where the demand for a nuclear medicine graduate is always high:
- Private and Government Hospitals
- Universities or University affiliated hospitals and medical institutions
- Private and Government Research Institutes
- Imaging centers
- Nuclear pharmacies
The following are the median yearly incomes for nuclear medicine technologists in the top industries where they work:
|Job Sector||Median Salary|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$116,800 (INR 87 Lakhs)|
|Hospitals (State, Local and Private)||$79,750 (INR 59 Lakhs)|
|Offices of Physicians||$79,210 (INR 59 Lakhs)|
|Medical and Diagnostic Centers||$79,750 (INR 59 Lakhs)|
Below are the job positions other than nuclear medicine technologists along with their average salaries:
|Job Position||Average Salary (USD) Per Year|
|Radiologist||258,000 (INR 1.93 Cr)|
|Research Assistant||28,000 (INR 21 Lakhs)|
|Associate and Lab Leader||71,000 (INR 53 Lakhs)|
|Radiologist Professor||131,110 (INR 98 Lakhs)|
|Nuclear Pharmacist||120,000 (INR 90 Lakhs)|
Hopefully, you are now familiar with all the required information pertaining to nuclear medicine. Needless to say, pursuing a career in this field requires sufficient information about the universities and courses that can provide you with the requisite knowledge. Leverage Edu’s educational counselling can come to the rescue! Book your 30 minutes free career counselling session with our experts and get all the answers to your career-related queries!