A Nuclear Medicine Physician is a doc who is trained in the diagnostic and therapeutic use of radioactive pharmaceuticals. So what would be the difference between a Diagnostic Radiologist and a Nuclear medicine doc, if both use radiations for diagnosis ?
A Diagnostic Radiologist reads images generated by external radiations (Xrays, Ultrasound, etc) while a Nuclear Medicine physician interprets images generated by radioactive substances from within the body. It would not be wrong to call Nuclear Medicine as "Radiology done inside out". At least that's a generalization, overlaps are bound to occur.
Arrite - let's have a look at what you were really looking for on this post : The median, mid-career Incomes for doctors in Nuclear Medicine in USA:
Houston, TX: $260,000/-
Los Angeles, CA: $285,000/-
Miami, FL: $252,000/-
New York, NY: $295,000/-
Seattle, WA: $275,000/-
National Average : $250,000/-
Pretty high - thanks to these facts:
1. There are not many residency training positions in Nuclear Medicine
2. Insurance companies pay higher for procedures than for just advice-only patient visits
Agreed that salaries are lower than Diagnostic Radiology, but nuclear medicine still remains competitive for their relatively higher incomes in comparison to other medical branches and an excellent, controlled lifestyle.
How to Become a Nuclear Medicine Physician in America ?
Here are the some of the pathways available to become a Nuclear Medicine Physician in USA, ie. to be eligible to take the American Board of Nuclear Medicine Examination:
1. For Fresh Medical School Graduates:
A year of clinical Preliminary / Transitional residency followed by at least two years of residency training in Nuclear Medicine.
A recent proposal (which may have already been implemented) was to increase this duration to 1 + 3 years instead of the 1+ 2 years.
2. For Diagnostic Radiologists (i.e. those who have completed Diagnostic Radiology Residency) :
One Year Fellowship in Nuclear Medicine (Most Private Practice Jobs out in the market prefer this background)
3. For Internal Medicine Physicians (i.e. those who have already completed Internal Medicine Residency) :
Two Years of Nuclear Medicine Residency
Note: While most residency programs in Nuclear Medicine accept candidate applications via the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS), they usually DO NOT participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).
Here are some sample Nuclear Medicine Residency programs:
- University of Maryland Medical Center Program
- Vanderbilt University Program
Job Market Outlook for Nuclear Medicine
A major concern for people contemplating a career move to Nuclear Medicine in the USA has been the job market. There have been conflicting reports on how the job market for pure Nuclear Medicine physician looks - many opine that it is dismal since the private sector looks for general Radiologists with nuclear medicine skills instead of pure Nuclear Medicine physicians. However there should still be jobs out there in large specialty centers and dedicated academic centers in Nuclear Medicine.
Now, having said all that, check out what Dr. Barry Siegel, professor of radiology and chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at Washington University, has to say about the future of Nuclear Medicine.
"My vision is probably not one that would make a lot of nuclear medicine people happy, but, I frankly see nuclear medicine fading into diagnostic radiology as a radiology sub-specialty. I think it is the only way it is going to be able to survive."
"General radiologists with nuclear medicine training of 4–6 months are eligible to read any nuclear medicine scan with no additional certification or training. Prospective employers prefer radiologists over nuclear medicine physicians, because the radiologists can read many other modalities in addition to nuclear medicine scans."However, I choose to not make an opinion on the job market at this point for want of solid evidence or trend studies.
1.Essentials of Nuclear Medicine Imaging 5th edition
2.Nuclear Medicine Board Review: Questions and Answers for Self-Assessment
3.Planning a Life in Medicine