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Nuclear medicine technologists operate equipment that creates images of areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients. The radioactive drugs cause abnormal areas of the body to appear different from normal areas in the images.Duties
Nuclear medicine technologists typically do the following:
Radioactive drugs, known as radiopharmaceuticals, give off radiation, allowing special scanners to monitor tissue and organ functions. Abnormal areas show higher-than-expected or lower-than-expected concentrations of radioactivity. Physicians and surgeons then interpret the images to help diagnose the patient’s condition. For example, tumors can be seen in organs during a scan because of their concentration of the radioactive drugs.
After graduation from an accredited program, a technologist can choose to specialize in positron emission tomography (PET) or nuclear cardiology. PET uses a machine that creates a three-dimensional image of a part of the body, such as the brain. Nuclear cardiology uses radioactive drugs to obtain images of the heart. Patients may exercise during the imaging process while the technologist creates images of the heart and blood flow.
Nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate’s degree from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Technologists must be licensed in about one half of the states; requirements vary by state.Education
Nuclear medicine technologists typically need an associate’s degree in nuclear medicine technology. Bachelor’s degrees are also common. Some technologists become qualified by completing an associate’s or a bachelor's degree program in a related health field, such as radiologic technology or nursing, and then completing a 12-month certificate program in nuclear medicine technology.
Nuclear medicine technology programs often include courses in human anatomy and physiology, physics, chemistry, radioactive drugs, and computer science. In addition, these programs include clinical experience—practice under the supervision of a certified nuclear medicine technologist and a physician or surgeon who specializes in nuclear medicine.
The Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology accredits nuclear medicine programs. Graduating from an accredited program may be required for licensure or by an employer.
High school students who are interested in nuclear medicine technology should take courses in math and science, such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, and physics.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
As of 2015, about half of all states required nuclear medicine technologists to be licensed. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s health board.
Most nuclear medicine technologists become certified. Although certification is not required for a license, it fulfills most of the requirements for state licensure.
Some employers require certification, regardless of state regulations. Certification usually involves graduating from an accredited nuclear medicine technology program. Certification is available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB).
In addition to receiving general certification, technologists can earn specialty certifications that show their proficiency in specific procedures or on certain equipment. A technologist can earn certification in positron emission tomography (PET), nuclear cardiology (NCT), or computed tomography (CT). The NMTCB offers NCT, PET, and CT certification exams.Important Qualities
Ability to use technology. Nuclear medicine technologists work with computers and large pieces of technological equipment and must be comfortable operating them.
Analytical skills. Nuclear medicine technologists must understand anatomy, physiology, and other sciences and be able to calculate accurate dosages.
Compassion. Nuclear medicine technologists must be able to reassure and calm patients who are under physical and emotional stress.
Detail oriented. Nuclear medicine technologists must follow exact instructions to make sure that the correct dosage is given and that the patient is not overexposed to radiation.
Interpersonal skills. Nuclear medicine technologists interact with patients and often work as part of a team. They must be able to follow instructions from a supervising physician.
Physical stamina. Nuclear medicine technologists must stand for long periods and be able to lift and move patients who need help.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Southern Ocean County Hospital||Manahawkin, NJ||Feb 02, 2010||$119,000|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologists||Exponential Group Inc.||Livingston, NJ||Jul 06, 2012||$100,776 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Meridian Hospitals Corporation||Manahawkin, NJ||Feb 02, 2013||$100,000|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Vassar Brothers Medical Center||Poughkeepsie, NY||Jan 11, 2013||$95,752|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Thomas Jefferson University Hospital||Philadelphia, PA||Jan 02, 2015||$88,545|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Thomas Jefferson University Hospital||Philadelphia, PA||Feb 01, 2015||$88,545|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Vassar Brothers Medical Center||Poughkeepsie, NY||Jan 11, 2010||$84,074|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||3M Technology Inc.||Morganville, NJ||Aug 11, 2010||$83,668 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Thomas Jefferson University Hospital||Philadelphia, PA||Feb 01, 2012||$81,606|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Bon Secours Baltimore Health System||Baltimore, MD||Feb 17, 2010||$80,496 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Saint Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers||Hammond, IN||May 19, 2010||$80,205|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Fresno Community Hospital and Medical Center||Fresno, CA||Jan 15, 2010||$75,691 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Sun Radiology||Peoria, AZ||Jan 03, 2011||$73,045|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Sun Radiology||Peoria, AZ||Oct 01, 2010||$73,045 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Norman Regional Health System||Norman, OK||Nov 15, 2011||$73,045|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Norman Regional Health System||Norman, OK||Nov 13, 2009||$73,045|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Community Medical Centers||Fresno, CA||May 01, 2011||$71,855 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center||Baltimore, MD||Aug 20, 2013||$71,125|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District||Brawley, CA||Jun 10, 2010||$69,000|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Greyhawk Medical Staffing||Phoenix, AZ||Jul 01, 2010||$68,871|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologists||Wellspan Health||York, PA||Apr 26, 2013||$68,000|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Wellspan Health||York, PA||Apr 26, 2010||$68,000|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Mount Sinai Medical Center||New York, NY||Feb 01, 2010||$67,972|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center||Baltimore, MD||Aug 20, 2011||$67,577 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center||Baltimore, MD||Aug 20, 2011||$67,556 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center||Baltimore, MD||Aug 20, 2011||$67,355 -
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist||Med-Share, Inc.||Southfield, MI||May 01, 2012||$66,784|
|Nuclear Medicine Technologists||DHS Managment Services||Addison, TX||Feb 08, 2012||$66,102|
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