Pharmacy Career Options: Nuclear Pharmacy

Today we’re beginning a new series of posts that will take a closer look at different types of pharmacy positions. Each post will go into some detail about the positions in general, requirements for the positions or career track, salary ranges, etc.

Today’s post discusses the career track of nuclear pharmacist.

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging defines a nuclear pharmacist as a “pharmacist who specializes in procurement, compounding, quality assurance, dispensing, distribution, and development of radiopharmaceuticals. In addition, the nuclear pharmacist monitors patient outcomes and provides information and consultation regarding health and safety issues.”

A career as a nuclear pharmacist could see you working in academia, hospitals, nuclear pharmacies, industry, and private research/government institutes.

You shouldn’t decide to become a nuclear pharmacist solely because you assume your salary will be higher than non-nuclear pharmacists: the Society states on its website that salaries are about the same as non-nuclear pharmacists, except “in situations requiring special expertise.”

You will need to be certified in nuclear pharmacy in order to work in this career sector. You also will need to take a certification exam offered by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS). Once you complete your training program and pass the certification exam, you’ll be designated as a Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist (BCNP).

Currently, according to the Society, only 13 schools of pharmacy in the United States offer training/certification programs in nuclear pharmacy. They are:

  • Butler University
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Arkansas
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy
  • University of New Mexico
  • Mercer University
  • State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • Temple University
  • University of Utah
  • University of Oklahoma

As for the dangerous aspect of this career field (you will be working with radioactive materials, after all), Purdue University’s Department of Pharmacy Practice reports that “most compounding is done behind leaded glass shielding and using leaded glass syringe shields and lead containers to hold the radioactive material. Nuclear pharmacists work with large quantities of radioactive material on a day-to-day basis, but by using simple techniques, the amount of radiation exposure to the nuclear pharmacist is very low.”

If you’re a pharmacist or pharmacy tech with an itch to move to a new position, contact a recruiter at Rx relief®. We look forward to discussing your career goals with you and helping you meet – and exceed – them. Contact us today.