How to Become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist

How to Become a Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty that uses radioactive materials to diagnose and treat many different conditions. Nuclear medicine technologists are trained professionals that work closely with nuclear medicine physicians to perform a variety of diagnostic imaging procedures.

What does a nuclear medicine technologist do?

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients for many different reasons and observe the functions and characteristics of the organs and tissues the drugs effect. This helps detect diseases and conditions when abnormal reactions take place. Nuclear medicine technologists also use cameras that identify and map the radioactive drug in the body of the patient to create diagnostic images. They explain procedures to patients, answer any questions, and administer the radiopharmaceutical by mouth, inhalation, injection, or other ways. They carefully position patients to get the best possible diagnostic image. They must abide by the safety procedures to minimize the amount of radiation exposure to themselves, patients, and other professionals. Nuclear medicine technologists also closely monitor patients during procedures and record their observations and any changes the patient experiences. They keep detailed patient medical records and document the amount and type of radiopharmaceuticals a patient receives.

What kind of training does a nuclear medicine technologist need?

Podiatrists must complete a bachelor degree and a 4 year podiatric college program resulting in the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree. Prospective podiatrists typically complete courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, pathology, and physics. They also complete clinical rotations in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. After completion of their program, most podiatrists complete residency programs that last from 2 to 4 years and provide advancing training. All states require podiatrists to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but usually include graduating from an accredited podiatric medicine program and passing a series of examinations. Podiatrists must complete continuing education courses to renew their licenses. Many podiatrists gain board certification to remain competitive in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a podiatrist?

Employment of podiatrists is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 9% from 2006 to 2016 (1). An aging population and the increased demand for podiatric medicine services will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for podiatrists that are board-certified. Some job openings will arise from the need to replace podiatrists that retire or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do nuclear medicine technologists make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of nuclear medicine technologists earn annual salaries between $61,752 and $74,403. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $80,424 (2).

A career as a nuclear medicine technologist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in nuclear medicine. Nuclear medicine technologists must be detail oriented and be able to effectively interact with a variety of patients and their families. Sensitivity, mechanical ability, manual dexterity, and good physical stamina are necessary characteristics. Nuclear medicine technologists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to effectively work independently and as part of a team.

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