Experts from a number of different fields contribute to the field of nuclear medicine including technologists, nurses, physicians and cardiologists, for example. These jobs are described in more detail below.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
As nuclear medicine procedures such as positron emission tomography (PET) and myocardial perfusion have become more complex over the years, the role of the nuclear medicine technologist has also become more involved. Today, these technologists carry out injections and advanced computer processing and imaging. As the techniques have become more complicated, the skills required of a nuclear medicine technologist have also become more sophisticated. The technologist may be required to operate gamma cameras and PET scanners in combination with a computerised tomography X-ray system, for example. The technologist needs to understand how to operate two different imaging systems while also maintaining a thorough knowledge of cross-sectional anatomy. The role therefore demands a dedication to continued learning and research. This role requires training as a radiologist first and then moving into nuclear medicine or training as a technologist from the beginning.
Nuclear medicine nurse
People from this profession work as part of a multidisciplinary team, alongside technologists, clinicians and scientists. Level one registered nurses receive training that allows them to specialise in nuclear medicine. The training enables them to administer radiopharmaceuticals, perform venepuncture and cannulation and carry out audits and research to assess quality of care.
Nuclear Medicine Physicist
This key member of the nuclear medicine team is responsible for scientific and technical aspects of the field including the management of equipment, data acquisition, data processing, the development of specific software, quality assurance, radiation protection and the administration of radioisotopes. For many of these aspects, patient interaction is key to the role, as is the ability to interact with co-workers from a variety of disciplines. A nuclear medical physicist will usually receive training in medical physics before going on to specialise in nuclear medicine.
Nuclear cardiologists are responsible for assessing patients and deciding on the best nuclear medicine technique for managing them. Examples of techniques used to assess patients include radionuclide venticulography and perfusion imaging. Perfusion imaging uses a gamma camera to obtain images that can be analysed using computer software to provide important functional data. Nuclear cardiologists receive training in general medicine before specialising in cardiovascular medicine.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc