Nuclear Medicine Technologist Career
Become a Nuclear Medicine Technician / Technologist
Nuclear Medicine Tech Resources
Explore the exciting field of nuclear medicine technology...
Nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs) prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals, which means radioactive materials, to help physicians diagnose and treat diseases. They usually inject the radioactive drugs by injection, inhalation, or mouth. The NMT then uses a scintillation camera to create images of the drugs as they localize in the body and emit radiation. The images are then reproduced for the physician to interpret. Physicians use these images to detect tumors or other problems. Like many healthcare workers, some of their duties involve reviewing a patientís medical records, evaluating their condition, and explaining the procedure and answering any questions. NMTs follow the doctorís instructions regarding the dosage and method of administration. Adhering to stringent safety standards is an important part of the job, so that they expose the patient to as little radiation as possible. With added experience and education, NMTs can assist in research and take on supervisory positions. More than half of NMTs work in hospitals, though you can also work in research centers, universities, and smaller clinics.
What are the education and training requirements for NMT's?
You can enter this career with a one or two-year certificate, an associate degree, or a four-year bachelorís degree. Certificate programs are also an option for healthcare professionals with a degree who want to switch to nuclear medicine, such as nurses or other medical technologists. Certificate programs generally require about one-year of study, and coursework covers radiation biology, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, imaging techniques, radiation safety, radionuclide pharmacology, chemistry nuclear medicine, physics nuclear medicine, and patient care procedures. Be sure that the program you choose is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If you are still in high school, be sure to successfully complete courses in chemistry, biology, physics, computer science, algebra, statistics, and geometry, as well as any healthy occupation educational classes offered.
Is certification required?
Completing a training program enables you to sit for a certification exam, which is not required but highly recommended if you want to be competitive in the job market, earn a higher salary, and establish your credentials to others in the field. Certification (CNMT) is offered through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) as well as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Growth for this job is expected to be very good, though the high cost of newer technologies will temper the growth somewhat. In 2008 the average salary was $66,660, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the top ten percent earning over $87,000. If nuclear technology interests you, look into the appropriate training courses or associate degree and you can start your education and training toward becoming a nuclear medical technologist.
To learn more about becoming an NMT, you can contact schools that offer nuclear medicine technology programs. If you have not decided if this is the right career choice for you, take some time to explore additional careers in health care.