What Is A Nuclear Radiologist

December 20, 2023

A nuclear radiologist, also known as a nuclear medicine physician, is a doctor who specializes in testing and treating people using a type of radioactive materials. With this technology, they can examine muscle tissue, organs, and blood and treat problems in those areas.

Nuclear radiology uses substances called radiopharmaceuticals. The radiation in them can treat certain types of illnesses or illuminate a part of the body during a scan with a special camera. The nuclear radiologist analyzes the resulting images of where and how the substances were absorbed in the body to diagnose a medical condition.

What Does a Nuclear Radiologist Do?

On a day-to-day basis, nuclear radiologists will administer radiopharmaceuticals, do body scans to see how those substances interact with the body, view test results, and discuss their findings with patients and doctors. Depending on the findings, a nuclear radiologist’s role in a patient’s care may end there, and the person’s doctor will use the results to form a treatment plan. If, based on the testing, a patient requires radiopharmaceuticals, the nuclear radiologist will continue to be a part of the treatment plan.

Education and Training of a Nuclear Radiologist

Medical School

Nuclear radiologists must first complete 4 years of medical school after finishing their undergraduate degree. In medical school, they take courses on topics like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, medical ethics, and laws governing medicine. They also get clinical experience through rotations in various specialties.


After graduating from medical school, nuclear radiologists enter a 5-year residency in nuclear radiology or nuclear medicine. In their first year, they focus on internal medicine or preliminary medicine. The remaining years involve working with radioactive materials and imaging technology to diagnose and treat patients.

Board Certification

Nuclear radiologists must become board certified by the American Board of Nuclear Medicine or the American Board of Radiology. Certification demonstrates their expertise in using radiopharmaceuticals and imaging scans. They must pass exams and fulfill continuing education requirements to maintain certification.

Career Outlook for Nuclear Radiologists

The field is growing faster than average due to increasing uses of nuclear technology and radiopharmaceuticals. Job prospects are very good over the next decade, especially for those willing to locate in underserved and rural regions. Nuclear radiologists enjoy Schedule B Provider status ensuring strong reimbursement for procedures.

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