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Nuclear Pharmacists Degree

What is Nuclear Pharmacy?

Nuclear Pharmacy is a concentration of pharmacy that deals with the compounding and dispensing of radioactive materials used in nuclear medicine procedures. This field developed as a separate concentration in the early 1970s, when it was officially recognized by the American Medical Association. The need to recognize this field as a separate concern arose when nuclear medicine became widely used and trained personnel were required to label products for administration to the patients. While large hospitals and medical centers managed to train their existing pharmacists in this field, smaller hospitals were unable to use nuclear medicines because they did not have the staff for it. Soon the concept of centralized nuclear pharmacies appeared, which served as a drugstore for the nuclear medicine department. When a specific nuclear medicine was needed, a qualified nuclear pharmacist would prepare the medication and dispense it to the end user.

How to Become a Nuclear Pharmacist?

To become a nuclear pharmacist, you need to invest in the right kind of education. Many years of commitment and undying dedication are required to succeed in a field like Nuclear Pharmacology. You will need to earn a Bachelor’s degree, followed by a Pharm. D. graduate degree. A fellowship or a residency will also be a part of your education, especially for those who are planning to opt for a concentration in a specific area. This residency may last up to two years. After this, you will be required to gain a license to practice.

Education Requirements

Undergraduate Studies

Aspiring Nuclear Pharmacists need to complete at least two years of undergraduate studies from an accredited institution. During this time, they should have taken specific courses in mathematics, physics, humanities, social sciences, chemistry, biology and natural sciences. These courses would be required when you apply for your Pharm. D. admissions.

Pharm. D.

After you have completed your undergraduate degree, you would be eligible to apply for Pharm. D. programs. This is a comprehensive 4-year degree which equips students with the necessary understanding of pharmacy science. This qualification also teaches prospective pharmacists regarding dealing with patients, customers, nurses, physicians and other healthcare personnel.

Here is a basic list of courses that you might have to complete as part of your Pharm. D. degree:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biological Systems
  • Pharmacy Practice and Professionalism
  • Calculations and Compounding
  • Metabolism and Cell Biology
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Introduction to Pharmacy Practice
  • Pharmacy Literature Analysis and Drug Information
  • Introduction to Therapeutics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacy Law
  • Therapeutics: Central Nervous System
  • General Medicine and Inflammatory Disorders
  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Pharmacy Practice and Professionalism
  • Pharmacy Management and Economics

In addition to these, you will also have to take a certain number of elective courses and complete a thesis project.

Fellowship or Residency

After completing your educational requirements, you would need some practice in the real world supervised setting. This is a requirement mainly for students who want to pursue a particular specialty. The fellowship or residency program may last 1 to 2 years and would allow students to work under experienced and licensed pharmacists. A final project would be required.

Certificate Programs for Nuclear Pharmacists

After the completion of a fellowship or residency, candidates may choose to go for a certificate program to enhance their understanding of the field. A certification would focus on concepts such as the proper handling and distribution of radioactive materials that are commonly used in nuclear medication. Such a program can also help students gain the required work experience. A certification in Nuclear Pharmacy is administered by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. To complete the program, candidates will have to pass an exam, along with meeting work experience requirements.

Licensing Requirements

After completing your Pharm. D. you would be eligible to apply for a pharmacy license if you do not have a specialization in mind. In most cases, nuclear pharmacists are not required to possess a special license to practice. After meeting all the training, education and experience requirements, a pharmacist in this field must be listed as an authorized user of radioactive materials on the hospital’s or pharmacy’s radioactive material’s license. This license is typically issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the state’ radiological health division. However, in Florida, the nuclear pharmacists are required to have an additional license to practice with radioactive materials, called the radiopharmacist license. The Florida Board of Pharmacy uses training and experience regulations set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If you are an applicant from Florida, you might want to read about the licensing rules and regulations in further detail before opting to enter this field.

Salary Information for Nuclear Pharmacists

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following data for pharmacists,

2016 Median Pay

$122,230 per year

Typical Entry Level Education

Doctoral or professional degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2014


Job Outlook, 2014-2024


Employment Change, 2014-24


The states that paid the most to pharmacists were New Hampshire, Alaska and California. The demand for nuclear pharmacists is likely to rise in the upcoming years, as new and more complicated diseases appear and the number of people affected by chronic diseases increases. Along with that, the number of people who have access to health insurance is also expected to rise, thanks to the federal health insurance reforms. With increased demand, more pharmacists will be required all across the country in various medical settings.

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