This page contains information on the specialty of nuclear medicine, a higher medical specialty recruiting to ST3-level vacancies.
Please note - nuclear medicine is not participating in the national Physician ST3 recruitment process but is recruited alongside radiology which is coordinated by London and KSS (LaKSS) Recruitment.
The Nuclear Medicine Specialty
The core role of a nuclear medicine physician is to lead and develop a clinical nuclear medicine service working as part of a multidisciplinary team. Diagnostic functional image protocolling and reporting, administration of radionuclide therapies, collaboration with referring clinicians and radiologists at multidisciplinary meetings, and medical care of patients with a broad range of clinical problems within a largely outpatient setting are key aspects of the role. Interested candidates can supplement their local experience by visits to training programmes, attending taster days in the specialty and nuclear medicine careers events.
Nuclear Medicine is a constantly evolving and innovative specialty, covering the widest breadth of pathologies extending from neonates to geriatrics. In the past 10 years there have been significant developments in hybrid imaging which combines functional imaging using radionuclides and radiological anatomic imaging – these machines include SPECT/CT, PET/CT and PET/MRI. The specialty training curriculum was rewritten in 2014 to ensure that nuclear medicine trainees would be equipped with the skills required to confidently interpret hybrid imaging studies, to review and interpret diagnostic imaging studies such as CT and MRI, and to present and discuss a broad range of imaging studies within multidisciplinary meetings. For further information please see www.jrcptb.org.uk
Nuclear medicine trainee characteristics
Nuclear medicine will particularly suit trainees who have:
a sound grasp of general medicine and well developed clinical skills
an interest in diagnostic imaging and treatment via molecular targeting
an interest in working with cutting edge technologies
good communication skills, leadership skills
enthusiasm for life-long learning
a wish to work within a vibrant, stimulating and diverse specialty.
As nuclear medicine physician consultants may run outpatient therapy clinics and may be the admitting consultant for inpatients undergoing therapy, trainees require a good level of clinical acumen. Entry has traditionally been from those who have completed core medical training with MRCP which is the approved route, but trainees from other backgrounds who have completed core training in other specialties with an unselected emergency take such as surgery and paediatrics are also eligible (qualifying route) with MRCS or MRCPCH. Please note that trainees who have been successfully appointed to ST3 Nuclear Medicine from qualifying pathways (e.g. paediatrics or surgery) will be eligible for CESR CP rather than CCT in Nuclear Medicine.
Nuclear medicine training
The training in Nuclear Medicine is for 6 years usually culminating in dual accreditation with CCT in Nuclear Medicine and CESR in Clinical Radiology subject to satisfactory progression. Trainees entering Nuclear Medicine training undertake core level Clinical Radiology training during the first 3 years of training with FRCR completion by the end of year 3/4. In the latter 3 years trainees will undertake higher Nuclear Medicine training and complete the Postgraduate Diploma Nuclear Medicine run by Kings College London (the specialty knowledge based assessment) which offers a significant taught programme. The diploma can be extended to an MSc which includes a research project.
During the first 3 years trainees will spend 80% of their time in Radiology and 20% in Nuclear Medicine changing to 20% Radiology and 80% Nuclear Medicine thereafter. The final year of training will include the opportunity to take on a specialised field of study such as advanced Nuclear Medicine imaging techniques (examples here would be PET/CT, PET/MR and paediatric nuclear medicine), therapeutic nuclear medicine or nuclear medicine research.
Nuclear Medicine trainees tend to be based at a single trust for the majority of their Nuclear Medicine training – but may rotate to other hospitals for additional experience for example in paediatric nuclear medicine, cardiothoracic nuclear medicine, PET/CT and specialised therapy attachments where these are not available locally. Rotations for the core radiology component of training will vary from post to post according to local arrangements (usually they will be accommodated in the local ST1-ST3 Clinical Radiology training programme), as will requirements for out of hours working.
Entry to specialist register and consultant opportunities
Upon confirmation of successful completion of training, trainees with core medical background will be entered onto the specialist register with CCT in nuclear medicine and CESR in radiology. Those from qualifying backgrounds will be awarded CESR CP in nuclear medicine and CESR in radiology. All who are on the specialist register will be eligible to apply for Nuclear Medicine, Radionuclide Radiology or Clinical Radiology consultant posts.
Consultant appointments to Nuclear Medicine in recent years have broadly matched numbers completing the training scheme. There are opportunities to work as a consultant on a less than full time basis and to organise a job that focuses on your special interests once established in a post.
Find out more about nuclear medicine and the services delivered by the specialty on Medical Care – the RCP’s online guide to service design.
- NHS health careers - nuclear medicine
- RCP (London), Specialty spotlight - nuclear medicine
- JRCPTB specialty page and curriculum
- ST3 nuclear medicine person specification
- Developing physicians on RCP Medical Care