Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging: A high-tech health care career
Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactivity tagged to drugs to diagnose and treat disease. This medical specialty combines chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, and computer technology to provide information about both the structure and function of virtually every major organ system in the body. The use of these imaging techniques has revolutionized the way medicine evaluates and treats many serious diseases such as coronary heart disease and cancer. The nuclear medicine technologist is a highly specialized health care professional who works closely with nuclear medicine physicians, radiologists, and cardiologists. Technologists use sophisticated radiation-detection instrumentation that produces two-dimensional (planar) studies or three-dimensional images using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET).
Technologists’ primary responsibilities include:
- Obtaining and critically analyzing patient history
- Monitoring patients’ physical conditions during procedures
- Preparing and administering radioactive chemical compounds, known as radiopharmaceuticals
- Labeling biologic specimens with radioactivity
- Performing patient studies including imaging and therapeutic procedures
- Processing images using computer enhancement techniques
- Evaluating images to determine technical quality
- Providing images, quantitative data analysis and patient information to physicians for diagnostic interpretation
Your future as a nuclear medicine technologist
Opportunities in nuclear medicine technology are available in hospitals, imaging centers, physician offices, clinics, and nuclear pharmacies. Other potential employment opportunities include medical sales, research, education and equipment and software applications. Many of the college’s graduates continue their education by pursuing advanced degrees or advanced credentialing in nuclear cardiology, positron emission tomography and computed tomography.
Nuclear medicine technology graduates also serve in a variety of leadership positions, such as department managers and supervisors, instrumentation or computer applications specialists and officers in various professional organizations. Excellent resources for information regarding this field and career opportunities are available at www.snmmi.org, www.nmtcb.org and www.arrt.org.
The nuclear medicine technology degree
Nuclear medicine technology education has been offered by Baptist Memorial Health Care since 1961.
Baptist College offers a bachelor’s degree program in nuclear medicine technology. The program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (www.JRCNMT.org).
Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the certification examination in nuclear medicine technology as given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (www.ARRT.org) or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (www.NMTCB.org).
The BCHS nuclear medicine technology program has achieved a 100 percent pass rate for first-time takers on the NMTCB for the past ten years. Many of our graduates have passed the NMTCB with distinction or highest distinction. Graduates who successfully complete their primary exams in nuclear medicine technology (NMTCB or ARRT) and also complete the required CT repetitions for the postsecondary registry in CT are candidates to apply for the CT registry as administered by the ARRT.
The curriculum includes a strong science foundation with courses specific to the fields of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging. The degree requirement for the bachelors of health science degree with a major in nuclear medicine technology is 124 credit hours. The coursework consists of general health studies courses integrated with professional coursework in allied health, nuclear medicine technology, and medical radiography. The professional courses include:
- Medical terminology
- Patient care
- Medical informatics
- Nuclear medicine clinical procedures courses
- Clinical practicum courses
- Nuclear pharmacy
- Applied pharmacology
- Research methods
- Radiation physics
- Nuclear physics and instrumentation
- Nuclear cardiology
- Radiation protection and radiobiology
- PET instrumentation and protocols
- CT instrumentation
- CT protocols
Courses involve classroom and laboratory environments where students participate in individual and small group learning activities as well as traditional lecture classes. Students gain clinical experience in a laboratory environment on campus and in a variety of clinical sites throughout the tri-state area. Clinical practicum courses include clinical experience in all routine imaging procedures, pediatrics, nuclear equipment quality control, nuclear pharmacy, PET/ CT, CT and nuclear cardiology. Clinical experience is available in a variety of hospitals and private practice facilities, including Baptist Memorial Health Care facilities, Memphis VA Medical Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and GE Healthcare Nuclear Pharmacy.
The nuclear medicine technology (NMT) degree program of Baptist College will prepare competent entry-level nuclear medicine technologists to provide responsive, quality care, and service.
Program Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the NMT program, the graduate will be able to:
- Function as a knowledgeable entry-level nuclear medicine technologist.
- Exercise independent judgment and critical thinking skills in the technical performance of nuclear medicine procedure.
- Perform procedures in a manner that reflects professionalism, effective communication skills, ethical care, and compassionate care.
The NMT program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). The contact information for the JRCNMT is 2000 W. Danforth Road, Suite 130 #203, Edmond, OK, 73003, 405-285-0546, www.jrcnmt.org. The JRCNMT holds recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).