Nuclear medicine is based on the treatment of medical conditions using radioactive isotopes and similar forms of therapy. Working as a physician in this area involves familiarity with technology, medical issues related to the use of the technology and advanced training across a wide spectrum of diseases.
Qualifications for working in the field of nuclear medicine naturally come after basic medical qualifications. This is a very highly specialized field, and has an additional degree of difficulty in terms of maintaining familiarity with the ongoing changes in the different types of technology involved.
Types of nuclear medicine treatment have changed drastically in the 50 years since this type of medicine became mainstream practice. Many of the materials now used for diagnosis, for example, didn't even exist in the 1960s. The process of technological change is actually accelerating, with only classes of technology coming onstream regularly. For that reason the career path of nuclear medicine position is very much concerned with obtaining ongoing education in what may be a very diverse range of applications depending on the type of specialization of the physician.
Career advancement in this field relates to a range of issues:
These are just the basics. In practice, career progression is also determined by the employment market, and career moves can be tangential, with the potential for some digression and movement across professional streams of practice.
Career success in this field is defined largely on a professional basis in terms of achievements. Nuclear medicine physicians form a small element of the medical profession, but this is also one of the most diverse forms of medical practice. In nuclear medicine, the research element is particularly important, and forms a large part of the work of advanced professionals in this field.
Mainstream employment includes positions in hospitals, clinics and in some cases private practices like consultancies. Expert nuclear medical physicians may also be engaged in areas of public policy, media, and non-profit organizations.
The career of a nuclear medicine physician is ideal for people whose natural talents and interests include advanced technology, really difficult medical issues, and a fascination with research. Nuclear medicine physicians are highly motivated people, which is a good character reference to the profession.