in academic medical centers, government laboratories, or pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Add to this list the need for appropriate research training for clinician-scientists, and the future demands for education and training will be extensive.
Moreover, the current exacting needs of research, and to some extent of clinical practice, require a degree of super-specialization on the part of the nuclear medicine community previously unrealized. As examples of this specialization, determining how to target specific receptors in the brain, understanding how mutated forms of protein kinases1 are involved in cancer, and understanding how to use gene replacement to repair the ailing heart will necessitate a deeper understanding of the biology of disease and its molecular manifestations than ever before. Thus, there are qualitative questions about training candidates for careers in nuclear medicine research as well as quantitative ones that relate to the need for additional specialists.
Because of the multidisciplinary nature of nuclear medicine research and clinical practice, the committee undertook a broad look at the required personnel, from research technologists to clinician-scientists. The committee conducted an extensive search for specific data (e.g., number of faculty positions available, number of positions available in industry, the time it takes to fill each position); however, the committee was unable to find any systematic survey that gave reliable data. To gain a better understanding of the challenges, the committee solicited input from relevant scientific societies, government agencies, and industry representatives. In addition to the comments from scientific societies and government agencies and industry, selected members of training programs for chemists, radiopharmacists, medical physicists, health physicists, and clinician-scientists were invited to a panel discussion at the committee’s third meeting (Appendix A) which was dedicated to training needs. The following sections discuss the current status of the workforce by occupation.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which represents more than 90 percent of the market for nuclear medicine imaging equipment, “is convinced of the need for larger numbers of practitioners trained in the technical acquisition, pharmaceutical manufacture, and clinical interpretation of images in nuclear medicine. This will include physicists, radiopharmacists, and clinician readers” (Richard Eaton, NEMA, personal communication). This statement is supported by a recent report that surveyed the need for nuclear medicine scientists (Center for Health Workforce Studies 2006). Based on this survey, 86 percent of 310 respon-