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Sleeper Specialties: Nuclear Medicine


Medicine, Work-Life Balance, and Physics, together at last

Dr. Michael Graham, a seasoned Nuclear Medicine practitioner and professor at the University of Iowa, reached out to us recently because at a national level his specialty is experiencing a shortage of new residents. The reasons for this include a less-than-perfect fit with the way it’s traditionally been lumped into radiology, a field with some parallels but some important training differences.

M1 Fallon Jung, PA1s Olivia Quinby and Noah Vasquez, and M2 Jeff Goddard talk with Dr. Graham about how the field has evolved and changed the dynamics of patient care and medical practice.

Decoding Nuclear Medicine with Dr. Michael Graham

For those in the dark, nuclear medicine is the area of medical practice that uses radioisotopes for diagnosis and, increasingly, treatment. The secret weapon is the ability to see bodily function and metabolism unlike routine imaging.

One reason we think nuke med is a sleeper specialty is lifestyle–compared to some of the more procedural specialties like surgery or OB, there is a more regular schedule on offer. Dr. Graham suggests that those who might find a good fit with nuke med studied engineering or physical sciences, and he offers some pointers for students considering a career in nuclear medicine and how it intersects with the broader field of radiology.

Touching on future trends in healthcare, we discussed newer ‘theranostic’ agents – a combination of therapeutic and diagnostic modalities. This rapid and promising development offers targeted treatment – increasing effectiveness while minimizing side effects.

Ensuring Work-Life Balance

Dr. Graham also helps us answer listener Molly’s question: how do medical students and doctors achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives. The balance in nuke med, as Dr. Graham highlights, can be somewhat smoother than in other medical specialties.

More about our guest:

Website: https://medicine.uiowa.edu/radiology/profile/michael-graham

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