Nuclear Medicine Certification and Certificate Programs
Nuclear medicine is a form of diagnostic imaging that uses radiation through drugs called radiopharmaceuticals. After administering radiopharmaceuticals to patients, nuclear medicine technologists operate a scanner (a gamma camera) to detect the distribution of radiation emissions in the body. These scans can help diagnose diseases, infections, and other health problems. Healthcare workers seeking training in this technology can complete a nuclear medicine certificate program.
Nuclear Medicine Technology Specialist Certificate
This 12-month program prepares current healthcare workers to aid physicians in diagnosing and treating patients through the use of nuclear technology. Nurses, diagnostic medical sonographers, and radiologic technologists are among those who often pursue the certificate to gain training in nuclear medicine. Certificate programs, which are often offered through hospitals, cover how to safely use the equipment and record the results for physicians to interpret. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to pursue certification as nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs).
An applicable associate's degree in a related field such as radiation therapy or diagnostic medical sonography is required. In addition, courses in medical terminology, human anatomy, and physiology are recommended.
The student engages in hands-on experience in a controlled classroom environment and, eventually, through an internship program at a medical office or hospital. The curriculum covers the functions of organ systems as well as in-depth safety and equipment procedures. Here is a list of course topics one might study through this certificate program:
- Nuclear medicine procedures
- Clinical nuclear medicine technology
- Nuclear medicine physics
- Applications of nuclear medicine
- Instrumentation in nuclear medicine
- Radiation safety
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average yearly income for nuclear medicine technologists in May 2012 was $70,840. That same year, there were about 20,480 positions held nationwide. The employment of NMTs is projected to grow by 19% between 2010 and 2020, reports the BLS. NMTs can work in hospitals, laboratories, private practice offices, and similar healthcare facilities.
Continuing Education Information
Over half of the states in the U.S. require nuclear medicine technologists to be certified. Certification for NMTs is available through the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT); some NMTs choose to obtain both certifications. The requirements for initial certification include completing an approved training program and passing an exam. To maintain their certified status, NMTs must earn continuing education credits annually, demonstrating that they're keeping abreast of technological advances in the nuclear medicine field.
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