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Overview of Master’s Degree Programs in Nuclear Medicine

Majors Overview August 14, 2018

This article talks about master’s degree programs in nuclear medicine and their educational requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, and continuing education options.

Master’s Programs in Nuclear Medicine

Subjects in physics, biomedical engineering, and radiological sciences are in the broad academic discipline called medical physics. Armed with a master’s degree in medical physics, an individual can pursue professional practice in hospitals and clinics. The medical profession needs medical physicists to provide scientific guidance pertinent to using radiation in diagnosis and therapies. In some programs, incoming students are allowed to choose from a diagnostic physics track or a therapy physics track.

Apart from theoretical and academic work in classrooms, coursework is devised to teach students about modes of operating a variety of technologies necessary for medical procedures, such as diagnostics imaging and radiation oncology. An original thesis based on research conducted in groups or individually may also have to be produced by students enrolled in the programs. About 38 credit-hours of coursework, including clinical practice, are in these programs.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in a specific area, such as physics, engineering, or physical science. In many graduate-level medical physics education programs, preference is given to applicant students with undergraduate education in a field related to medical physics, such as radiologic sciences or nursing. Some incoming students have prior work experience as healthcare professionals, including physicians. Applicants also have to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

Coursework

Program coursework combines lecture- and lab-based courses that are supplemented by hands-on clinical practicums. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Clinical therapy physics
•Dosimetry
•Radiation detection
•Systems physiology
•Magnetic resonance imaging

Career Options

Graduates may seek careers in diagnostic medicine, working in work settings such as radiology departments and medical imaging clinics. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Radiation oncology consultant
•Diagnostic Consultant
•Educator
•Radiation specialist
•Medical researcher

Job and Wage Outlook

Physicists, in general, are expected to see a job growth of 14%, over the 2017-2027 decade. In 2017, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $117,220 while those employed in hospitals earned a median wage of $161,080 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Continuing Education Options

Program graduates who seek continued education may pursue a doctorate. Students may also seek continuing graduate education in fields related to nuclear medicine and medical physics, including biochemistry or radiological sciences.

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