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What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear Medicine is an exciting field of study emphasizing the use of radioactive substances to help diagnose and treat diseases. Nuclear medicine uses sophisticated technology to capture the radiation that emits from a body versus analyzing radiation coming from an external source like an X-ray.
The type of scans used in nuclear medicine focus on the functionality of a patient’s anatomy. The most prominent types of nuclear medicine scanning technology used today include Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan) and SPECT Scans (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography).
What is Nuclear Medicine Technologist?
The study of Nuclear Medicine technology is essentially the way nuclear medicine is utilized to promote wellness and understand medical situations the eye cannot interpret alone. Nuclear medicine utilizes very small amounts of radioactive material to help diagnose and treat a variety of patients.
A Nuclear Medicine Technologist will be responsible for the administration of prescribed radiopharmaceuticals and their associated images. NMT’s assess a patient’s organs and areas of interest to detect gamma radiation being emitted. A technologist will help create a number of imaging procedures to support medical specialties such as psychiatry, pediatrics, oncology, and cardiology.
What Technology is Used in Nuclear Medicine?
Devices and scanners used for imaging include a number of different types of technology. The most popular types of technology include the gamma camera, nuclear cardiac stress tests, bone scans, Single Photon Emission Tomography (SPECT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Computerized Tomography (CT). These unique technologies can be found in a number of healthcare settings that include clinics, hospitals, and medical imaging centers across the country.
Top Degrees in Nuclear Medicine
For students interested in pursuing a degree in nuclear medicine technology, you will find a number of undergraduate degrees and certificate programs to choose from. Accredited colleges and universities of all sizes offer undergraduate programs in nuclear medicine tech to be considered. The following summaries are the most popular programs in the area of study. To connect with top colleges, simply request information from them on this page with a simple click.
Nuclear Medicine Technology Certificate Program
Certificate programs in nuclear medicine technology are offered from a number of colleges. A certificate can be very specific in nature or general in its approach to the discipline of nuclear medicine. Students and working professionals can utilize a certificate program as a means to enter the field or as a means to upskill, make a career transition, or remain competitive.
Certificates can be completed in a few months up to two-years in time depending on the design of the program and the contents of the program. Make sure to consult employers in your area prior to matriculation to ascertain the preferred certificate programs to help move your career the right direction.
Nuclear Medicine Technology Associate Degree
Associate degrees in the field of nuclear medicine technology can be obtained from many universities, colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and technical colleges. Degrees are conferred as either an Associate of Science (AS) or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Students can expect to take a number of general education classes in conjunction with core science classes. General education classes may include courses such as creative writing, sociology, psychology, and economics.
Core classes in a nuclear medicine technology program will vary from college to college. However, you can expect many of the same core classes to be similar. Programs that may be included in the program include the following:
- Cell Biology
- Radiation Physics
- Human Anatomy
- Human Physiology
- Radiation Physics
- Nuclear Medicine Instrumentation
- Radiation Biology
- Biomedical Science
- Tomographic Imaging
- Nuclear Medicine Pharmacy
Employment & Careers in Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine techs that earn a degree or certificate will be poised to step into a number of exciting positions in the field. Students jumping into a nuclear medicine technician job at an outpatient facility or hospital can expect to make an above-average income.
Income will vary from job to job based on a variety of factors yet the mean annual income for a nuclear medicine tech is currently pegged at $77,660 by the BLS. States that employ the most nuclear medicine technicians include Florida, California, New York, and Texas. Nuclear medicine jobs are projected to grow at more than twice the national average creating opportunities for employment and career growth in the future.
Job Responsibilities of a Nuclear Medicine Tech
To best understand the role of a nuclear med tech, it is important to do your research and determine if the job functions match your skill set and competencies. A list of the most common job responsibilities of a nuclear medicine tech include the following:
- Administering radiation intravenously or radiopharmaceuticals to locate and treat a variety of diseases under the direct supervision of a physician
- Measuring blood volume, red cell survival, glandular activity, and radioactivity of patient with dedicated equipment such as Geiger counters, scanners, and scintillometers
- Communicating with patients and their guardians regarding safety, procedures, and processes
- Helping to develop viable treatment procedures for nuclear medicine programs
- Calibrating, radioisotope machinery, testing equipment, and laboratory cameras
- Gathering critical data from patients to ensure proper therapy for diagnostic procedures
- Training interns and assistants to properly operate machinery and lab equipment
- Analyzing and studying cardiac function studies
- Recording, measuring, and recording radiation administered and disposed to account for all dosing
- Producing a computer-generated image of testing for a physician to interpret
Job Titles of Nuclear Medicine Technologists
As students think about their future in the medical industry, it is important to consider a career in the field. Below you will find a list of titles used by the medical community to describe the job of a nuclear medical technologist. To help acclimate you to the differing job titles across the industry, take the time to study the list as a means to get comfortable with nomenclature and terminology.
- Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist (CNMT)
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist or Nuclear Med Tech
- Radiation Safety Officer
- Nuclear Cardiology Technologist
- Supervisor Nuclear Medicine
- Registered Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Nuclear Medicine PET-CT Technologist
- Staff Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Senior Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Lead Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear Medicine Job Growth
Nuclear medicine jobs are forecast to grow at an 11% clip adding over two thousand new jobs in the coming reporting phase. Likewise, biomedical engineers will see an amazing 23% growth rate and MRI technicians a 13% rise in employment according to the BLS.
Similar occupations such as biological technicians, ultrasound technicians, sonographers, radiation therapists, and vascular techs are also anticipated to grow significantly. The overall growth in radiation and nuclear medicine will provide qualified candidates with stability in a challenging work environment.
Nuclear Medicine Resources
The Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is a professional organization that provides membership benefits, news, resources, and insights for students seeking to take their career to the next level in this field of study. Likewise, the American College of Nuclear Medicine (ACNM) is a member-funded organization that supports education through grants, awards, and scholarships. Get plugged in and see if joining a nuclear medicine organization is right for you.