Through a combination of courses, labs and seminars, master's-program students are trained in the safe preparation, handling and use of radiation to assist with medical diagnosis and treatment of disease. A master's degree is typically earned in two years, and a thesis is often required.
Nuclear pharmacy programs may require applicants to have a professional Pharm.D degree or bachelor's degree in pharmacy or a related field. Applicants should also have completed undergraduate coursework in chemistry, mathematics and physics. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 may be stipulated by some schools.
Master's Degree in Nuclear Pharmacy
Since nuclear pharmacy programs may accept both pharmacists and applicants with a bachelor's in a science discipline, such programs may offer two tracks: clinical and basic science. The clinic track focuses on patient care and research and issues related to the practice of nuclear pharmacy. The science track emphasizes technology, radiometric methodologies and radioactive drug development. Nuclear pharmacy programs are likely to include a thesis obligation. The following are possible course topics in a nuclear pharmacy program:
- Nuclear pharmacy introduction
- Nuclear pharmacy technology
- Radiation health effects
- Radiobiology and radiochemistry
- Radiopharmaceutical design
Popular Career Options
Graduates from a nuclear pharmacy master's degree program are qualified to practice the specialty in settings that use nuclear medicine, primarily hospitals. The degree enhances the credentials of established pharmacists but does not qualify graduates to become a pharmacist. Graduates of a nuclear pharmacy program who are not pharmacists may work in the pharmaceutical industry. They may conduct research, develop new products or work in management, sales or marketing.
Employee Outlook and Salary Information
As a broad category, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 3% growth in employment of pharmacists over the years 2014-2024. The BLS also reported in 2015 that pharmacists earned $121,500 as a median annual wage.
Continuing Education Information
The Board of Pharmacy Specialties offers certification to licensed pharmacists who have completed training in nuclear pharmacy and pass a certification exam. Renewing a certification is a three step process that entails: 1) a review of changes in the field since the practitioner's last certification, 2) peer review and 3) either passage of another exam or completion of continuing education credits.
A master's degree in nuclear pharmacy allows the graduate to practice a specialized form of pharmacy, often in a hospital setting. The degree is intended as a supplement to a pharmacy degree, and not intended to obtain initial certification as a pharmacist. This intensive 2-year program focuses on the study and use of radioactive drugs and technologies.