Dr Dave Colville, S7
Brief ‘definition’ of specialty

Nuclear medicine is a unique branch of medicine which uses unsealed radioisotopes for functional imaging and therapeutic procedures.

Overview of training programme content and duration

It is a five-year training programme for dual accreditation in General Internal Medicine (GIM). There is a high intensity general medical year based at a district general hospital (DGH) in the first year. The rest of the training is at a tertiary hospital with good nuclear medicine facilities. Placements are arranged in more specialised areas such as paediatric nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT).

Exam requirements

For entry into the training programme, completion of Internal Medicine Training and the MRCP is required. More information about the entry requirements can be found on the JRCPTB website.

Other requirements:

There are no other mandatory requirements for entry into training. Good anatomical and physiological knowledge is important and any extra experience in these areas would be beneficial.

Opportunities/expectations for out of programme/research

There are plenty of opportunities for in-programme research and the MSc in Nuclear Medicine is a central component of training which includes a research module. Involvement in research is actively encouraged within the specialty.

A day in the life of a Registrar/Consultant

A normal Monday morning begins with a PET-CT reporting session including the vetting of any request cards and dealing with any clinical issues which may arise. The afternoon consists of a nuclear medicine thyroid clinic where patients attend for thyroid imaging, are immediately reviewed, given their results, and assessed for radioiodine therapy if required. There is then the daily general nuclear medicine reporting session later in the afternoon. Every day is different and clinical responsibilities are wide ranging and include ward rounds, clinics, multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings  and administration of radioisotopes.

Pros and Cons of working in this specialty


  • It provides a new challenge and educational opportunities
  • There is plenty of scope to take part in research
  • Good work/life balance


  • A small specialty so not many posts available
  • The MSc is based at King’s College London so some travelling is required at times
How this specialty differs to others and what made me choose it

Nuclear medicine offers the opportunity to do something fairly unique within the field of medicine. It is different from other medical specialties in that it is mainly an imaging specialty with a therapeutic aspect. It is however also very different to the anatomical imaging of radiology. I chose this specialty for a number of reasons. It provided me with a new challenge and educational opportunities including the MSc and research. The work/life balance was attractive and the training allows for the continued involvement and participation in general medicine.

Tips for success in applying for this specialty
  • Attend a nuclear medicine department and see the wide range of procedures that are involved.
  • If possible, attending oncology clinics where assessments for radionuclide therapies are performed would be of benefit.
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