Radiology Vs. Nuclear Medicine Physician

Radiology and nuclear medicine are two medical specialties that physicians can pursue. This article compares their training and duties. It also distinguishes between these specialties by examining the technology and type of data each one uses.

Comparing Radiologists to Nuclear Medicine Physicians

Radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians are both medical doctors and may both use radioactive materials to help diagnose or treat patients. Nuclear medicine physicians earn a higher salary than radiologists and typically have more training than radiologists have.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017) Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Radiologists Medical degree $291,500** 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)
Nuclear Medicine Physicians Medical degree $316,457** 13% (physicians and surgeons, all other)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Glassdoor; ***

Responsibilities of Radiologists vs. Nuclear Medicine Physicians

Radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians both perform a lot of similar general duties, such as instructing technicians so that they can get the appropriate data that's needed to diagnose patients. They evaluate test results and they also consult with the doctors who referred patients concerning their findings. The key difference relates to how the technology they use works. Radiologists use X-rays and other types of images to get a visual image of what's happening inside a patient. Nuclear medicine physicians use materials that are processed in the body and can show them things like how effectively organs are working. Since they use different medical procedures and different equipment to assess different data they may diagnose different medical conditions.


In order to understand what's happening inside a person's body, radiologists use a range of techniques to produce images. Since they are medical doctors they use these images to diagnose patients. Once they've completed medical school they are required to complete a residency program that's typically four years in length. It's also common for radiologists to complete a fellowship program. Some of the equipment they're specifically trained to use includes X-ray machines, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. They direct technicians to use the equipment on patients so that they can get the appropriate data needed to develop a diagnosis or treatment.

Job responsibilities of a radiologist include:

  • Reviewing patient records
  • Assessing images obtained
  • Determining if additional images are needed
  • Producing reports concerning test results
  • Discussing results with patients or other medical professionals

Nuclear Medicine Physicians

Nuclear medicine physicians use a range of procedures involving radioactive materials to diagnose or treat patients. Examples of conditions that they may treat include thyroid cancer and tumors. Once they've completed medical school they must complete a residency program in nuclear medicine. This involves at least three years of training. They also need to acquire clinical experience.

Job responsibilities of a nuclear medicine physician include:

  • Overseeing technicians who perform tests on patients
  • Evaluating test data
  • Prescribing treatment for patients
  • Determining how much material to inject patients with
  • Maintaining safety guidelines
  • Consulting with other medical professionals

Related Careers

There are a number of medical professions that may appeal to those considering a future as a radiologist or nuclear medicine physician. The links listed below connect to information about medical laboratory scientists and anesthesiologists, which are just two of a number of alternate occupations aspiring radiologists or nuclear medicine physicians may be interested in.

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?