Discoveries based on nuclear science have dramatically improved both longevity and quality of life. Nuclear medicine benefits over 35,000 patients daily in the U.S. in our hospitals and medical clinics. Here are just a few ways nuclear science has a considerable impact on current medical practice:
- Physicians rely on x-rays to diagnose tumors without the need of invasive surgery.
- Radiation is used to treat leukemia and other types of cancer.
- More than half of all medical equipment used in hospitals is sterilized with radiation.
- Radioisotopes are used in the development of more than 80 percent of all new drugs.
In addition, radiation techniques have played a key role in twelve of the last fifteen Nobel Prizes awarded for medicine and physiology. Over the past few years alone, great strides have been made by nuclear engineers and health physicists in the production of radioisotopes that are used for medical diagnostics and treatments.
Nuclear medicine and biology studies can lead to a wide range of challenging careers such as:
- Physicians–many fields of medicine use radiation to diagnose and treat diseases.
- Nuclear medicine radiologists, also called nuclear radiologists, are physicians who use radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals, to diagnose and treat disease.
- Radiation oncologists specialize in using radiation therapy to treat cancer.
- Interventional radiologists perform interventions using radiological imaging, allowing for minimally invasive treatments.
- Nuclear pharmacists specialize in preparing and dispensing radiopharmaceuticals. Nuclear pharmacists can work in hospitals, nuclear pharmacies, industry, and research institutes.
- Technicians are needed in many nuclear medicine fields. Nuclear medicine technicians work with physicians to prepare patients for treatment with radiopharmaceuticals; some perform imaging procedures. Diagnostic radiation technicians perform many imaging procedures, such as X-rays, and assist with many others.
For more information on careers in medical science, visit the Radiological Society of North America’s public website, radiologyinfo.org.
There have been many famous scientists and discoverers in nuclear history. Here is a brief history of those who have paved the way.