Nuclear Medicine involves the use of radioactive substances to identify and analyse the processes of disease – contributing to both the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses.
The Royal Society of Medicine offers a range of events for different medical specialties, including Nuclear Medicine – see a full list on our Events page>>
Entry Route into Nuclear Medicine
Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme to be eligible to apply for a core training programme. Core training comprises either:
Job Progression through Nuclear Medicine
Higher speciality training starts at ST3 and applicants should have the full membership of the Royal College of Radiologists before applying – meaning they should take the FRCR during core-level training. Posts will not necessarily be offered if a candidate meets the required standard, due to the high competition ratios.
Speciality training takes at least six years to complete, from ST3 to ST8. Doctors will undertake higher training and complete the Diploma in Nuclear Medicine in the following years. Trainees are then eligible to apply for entry to the specialist register, in Clinical Radiology (CESR) and Nuclear Medicine, via a CCT.
Nuclear Medicine programmes consist of four to six placements in medical specialities such as Oncology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology, and Cardiology.
Entry into Nuclear Medicine may be from a Clinical Radiology background, but also from specialities such as Paediatrics, or the Surgical Specialities. The route they take will contribute to determining how they are assessed, and therefore whether they are issued a CCT or CESR. Further information is available on the JRCPTB website.
Once training at ST3-7 is complete, trainees are eligible to apply for a CCT, and entry onto the Specialist Register. Nuclear Medicine can also be combined with sub-specialities such as Endocrinology or the AIM specialities, such as
- Oncology, and
- Nuclear Cardiology.
There are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead or a clinical or medical director.
There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as:
- a director of medical education to oversee the postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director who is responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean who is responsible for managing the training programme.
Academic Roles in Nuclear Medicine
Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.
Competition for Nuclear Medicine Roles
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 5.0, with 10 applications for 2 posts.
In December 2017, there were
- 52 consultants,
- 5 speciality doctors,
- 1 staff grade,
- 20 speciality registrars,
- 1 core trainee, and
- 1 F2 trainee.
Salaries in Nuclear Medicine
The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments and situations. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.
A Day in the Life of a Nuclear Medicine Specialist
Specialists generally work in hospital-based nuclear medicine departments – using imaging devices and possibly operating out of a radiology pharmacy, preparing radio-pharmaceuticals. Specialists will often perform medical interventions such as cardiac stress testing, report on nuclear medicine studies, attend MDTs, and vet requests for diagnostic tests.
Nuclear medicine departments are typically open during normal office hours, but there may be some limited on-call work in some departments.