Master's Degrees in Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine programs are most commonly found as undergraduate degrees and certificates; however, advanced training is offered as part of master's degree programs in medical imaging. Learn about graduate level programs, common courses, skills taught, other degree levels in this field and online availability. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Will I Learn in a Nuclear Medicine Master's Degree Program?

A Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate program can be offered as an educational track of a Master of Imaging Science degree program. Core courses train you on healthcare systems, research, pharmacology and pathophysiology. You'll participate in clinical internships at a medical facility associated with the university offering the program. Alternatively, if you already work in a healthcare setting, they can be partially completed at your work facility, with approval from the degree-granting school.

Coursework in the program covers pharmacology, pathophysiology, patient assessment, American healthcare systems and research methods. A research project is often required. Approximately half of required credit hours will be clinical internships.

Common Courses Research, pharmacology, pathophysiology
Key Skills Patient care, radionuclide therapy, practice-based decision making
Degree Levels Undergraduate certificate, Associate of Arts, Bachelor's,
Online Availability Bachelor's degrees and Advanced Associate degrees are available in a hybrid format online, while Associate of Arts degrees are not.

Why Are There So Few Master's Degree Programs in Nuclear Medicine?

Most nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs) are trained through undergraduate certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Many technologists were working outside of their general competencies without the benefit of formal training, reports the Society of Nuclear Medicine (www.snm.org). This put patients at risk and brought physicians, hospitals and technologists subject to legal liabilities. As a result, the Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate program, offered at the master's degree level, was first launched in 2009 to train NMTs in these competencies.

The master's degree curriculum was built on the core competencies that were lacking in less advanced training. These competencies include patient care, radionuclide therapy, cardiology, professional communication, practice-based decision making and system-based practice. Development of this curriculum will provide training for those working as NMTs to work with the general population and with specialized populations. Upon graduation, you'll be eligible for certification as a Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate (NMAA) from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board.

What About Certificate, Associate's Degree and Bachelor's Degree Programs?

An undergraduate certificate program can prepare you to sit for the national registry exam. You could take your certification exam from either the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board. In a typical certificate program, you'll receive training in nuclear instrumentation, patient care, radiation safety, radiopharmacy (a subfield of nuclear medicine that deals with radioactive drugs), positron emission tomography (PET) and radiation biology.

An Associate of Arts in Nuclear Medicine Technology teaches you several therapeutic and imaging procedures. You'll be introduced to radiopharmaceuticals, as well as learning how to communicate with patients. You'll work with radiation detection systems and computer programs that analyze imaging results. You'll also learn to use computed tomography equipment, gamma cameras, PET scanners and quality control procedures. Coursework may include anatomy and physiology, radiopharmacy, clinical education, basic nuclear medicine science and radiation safety.

More advanced training in the discipline can come from a bachelor's degree program in nuclear medicine technology. These programs are geared toward those with NMT certification who wish to earn a bachelor's degree. A 4-year program in will consist of three years of pre-clinical work, with about 12 hours of actual clinical experience. Coursework in the program may cover introductory clinical nuclear medicine, human anatomy and human physiology. Electives are commonly drawn from a variety of science areas, including chemistry, statistics, biology, computer literacy and computer science.

Are Degrees Offered Online?

The Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate track is a blended program, with coursework taken online and clinical experiences taken on-campus or at a hospital in your area that's been approved by the school. Associate's degrees in nuclear medicine technology are not readily available online. Several colleges offer a bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology online. These are often blended courses, due to the required clinical lab sessions required for the degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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