Nuclear Medicine Scientists (also known as Nuclear Medicine Technologists) are highly skilled health experts who use very small quantities of radionuclides to diagnose diseases — by detecting physiological and metabolic changes within the body and using the same principles to treat diseases. A career in nuclear medicine combines the humanities of patient care, sociology of health, cutting-edge science (instrumentation and computing) with health/medical science. Get qualified to deliver radionuclide therapies and to provide diagnosis using a gamma camera, SPECT, PET, SPECT/CT, PET/CT, PET/MRI and CT. If you believe that radiography or radiation therapy could be a suitable career choice for you, then a career in nuclear medicine, which combines imaging and therapy, would be a great fit. The starting average weekly salary for fresh graduates ranges from $1,288, with the potential to increase to $1,430 or more as you gain experience, along with superannuation benefits (according to Indeed data).
Personal requirements for a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist
- Interest and aptitude for health science
- Professionalism and compassion
- Communication skills and patient advocacy
- Attention to detail
- Priding oneself in work
- Responsible and ethical nature
- Ability to adapt to dynamic and innovative environments
- Organisation skills and ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Desire to help people and use science to improve their outcomes
Education & Training for a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist
To become a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist, you have to complete a university degree in nuclear medicine science. This would usually require a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Pre-requisite subjects vary from one university to another, but English proficiency is the only assumed knowledge, while mathematics, biology and physics could assist you in navigating through your first year of university.
There are more than 100 different nuclear medicine procedures that are clinically performed to save or change the lives of patients. On average, every Australian has 2.5—4 nuclear medicine procedures done in their lifetime; 700,000 nuclear medicine procedures are carried out in Australia annually. Learn more about this career via the ANSTO resource — http://www.ansto.gov.au/media/6117.
Duties & Tasks of a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist
Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists routinely perform the duties below, while graduates of Australia's four-year degree programs are fully registered as Medical Radiation Practitioners with AHPRA/MRPBA nationally and are licensed (state licences do vary) to perform tasks in the next section titled 'Tasks':
- Maintain and operate imaging and other equipment
- Maintain and operate computing systems and networks
- Perform data acquisition (imaging), analysis and processing
- Prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and therapy
- Receive and interpret procedure requests/referrals, and perform appropriate procedures
- Explain procedures to patients, take patient histories and gain informed consent
- Monitor the patient's medical status and ensure their comfort, privacy and safety needs are met before, during and after the procedure
- Communicate findings of procedures to medical practitioners
- Perform laboratory procedures, including invitro procedures and blood labelling
- Safely manage the receipt, handling, storage, use and disposal of radionuclides
- Perform routine quality control and testing procedures on instrumentation, radiopharmaceuticals, data, images and computing systems
- Initiate and participate in research programs and in the development of new techniques
- Supervise and educate students.
- Radiopharmacy (diagnostic and therapy)
- Data acquisition and image analysis/quantitation
- Interventional studies (e.g. medication interventions in imaging)
- Operate and perform procedures with gamma camera, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), position emission tomography (PET) and hybrid systems (SPECT/CT and PET/CT)
- Perform diagnostic computed tomography (CT) procedures
- Perform bone mineral densitometry
- Provide research, pre-clinical and veterinary imaging
- Equipment quality management and operation
Working conditions for a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist
Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists work with other health professionals and medical staff as part of a team.
Employment Opportunities for a Nuclear Medicine Scientist/Technologist
Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists are employed in public and private hospitals, as well as private nuclear medicine/radiology practices in metropolitan, regional and rural locations. Demand for Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists has grown substantially, with the workforce projected to double by 2050. This reflects both the ageing population and the emergence of targeted molecular imaging and therapies. There are excellent employment opportunities across Australia and internationally. Some Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists also change career trajectories and enter commercial roles (e.g. equipment sales and applications training), research, education (e.g. clinical educators or university academics) or management.
With further training, Nuclear Medicine Scientists/Technologists may specialise in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound.
Very strong growth (more than 10% annual growth, with the workforce expected to double by 2050)