The Current State of Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Radiology: Workforce Trends, Training Pathways, and Training Program Websites

Jack H. Ruddell, Adam E.M. Eltorai, Oliver Y. Tang, Johanna A. Suskin, Elizabeth H. Dibble, M. Elizabeth Oates, Don C. Yoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Nuclear medicine (NM) is a multidisciplinary field. Its overlap with nuclear radiology (NR) creates unique training considerations, opportunities, and challenges. Various factors impact the workforce, training needs, and training pathways. This state of flux may be perplexing to prospective NM/NR trainees. Purpose: To evaluate the state of NM/NR training by assessing the (1) workforce trends and job prospects for NM/NR trainees, (2) NM and NR training pathways, and (3) applicant-accessible online presence of training programs. Methods: Workforce trends were analyzed using data collected from the 2017 American College of Radiology Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey. Information regarding the training pathways leading to board certification(s) for NM and NR physicians were obtained through the American Board of Nuclear Medicine, the American Board of Radiology (ABR), and the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging. Each Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited NM residency or NR fellowship training program's website was reviewed for 20 content items to assess its comprehensiveness for those seeking information regarding eligibility, applications, training curriculum, and program characteristics. Results: Number of hires for NM/NR physicians has exceeded the projected number of hires from 2014 to 2017. In the last decade, there has been a greater than 25% decrease in the combined number of traditional NM residencies and NR fellowships (79–58 programs) and a greater than 50% decrease in the combined number of NM and NR trainees (173–82 trainees). In 2017, the ABR redesigned its 16-month pathway leading to specialty certification in diagnostic radiology and subspecialty certification in NR. As of March 24, 2019, there are 36 diagnostic radiology or IR residency programs with 64 trainees participating in this redesigned NR pathway. Of the 93.1% (54/58) of traditional Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited NM and NR training programs having websites in the 2017–2018 academic year, the mean number of online criteria met per program was 7.74 ± 3.2 of 20 (38.7%). Conclusion: Recruitment into the traditional NM/NR training pathways has been steadily declining, but there has been a renewed interest with the redesigned ABR 16-month pathway. There is a paucity of online information available to prospective NM/NR applicants. In this rapidly evolving and unique field, it is important to streamline NM/NR training and bolster the information accessible to potential NM/NR applicants as they weigh career options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1759
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Association of University Radiologists


  • Fellowship
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Nuclear radiology
  • Online
  • Residency
  • Training
  • Websites
  • Work force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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