Nuclear Medicine Practitioner Schools
The growing field of nuclear medicine uses the latest developments in science and computer imaging to diagnose and treat illnesses. Read on to learn more about this medical field and what kind of nuclear medicine career you can have. Learn about available programs and how to choose one. Get info on common prerequisites, and see what you'll study.
Students looking for a career in nuclear medicine technology can choose from programs at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. This article will help you find the right program for you, and will discuss each program, where they can be found, and how to pursue a career in the field.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is the use of radioactive isotopes to scan and/or treat the human body from the inside out. A nuclear medicine practitioner, in conjunction with a physician, administers a controlled dose of radioactivity (called a radionuclide) internally to the patient either through injection or by ingestion with a pharmaceutical. This radionuclide localizes in a region or an organ that the doctor wants to scan, and its signal is read by a gamma camera, giving the doctor an image of the cellular activity in the effected region.
In certain cases, the doctor can inject the radionuclide into a region for destructive therapeutic purposes. That is, when the prescribed treatment is the destruction of unwanted tissue, the radionuclide can deliver an effective dose in a specific region without the collateral damage of traditional external radiation treatments.
How Do I Become a Nuclear Medicine Practitioner?
The Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT) accredits scores of schools across the United States. These schools offer programs ranging in scope from certificates (mostly earned by practicing physicians or nurses) to associate's and bachelor's degrees. There is also a relatively new, advanced level in radiologic technology referred to as a Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate (NMAA). These NMAA programs operate at roughly the same level as a master's degree.
By the year 2015, the certificate program for students with a current Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is scheduled to be phased out, and the B.S. with an emphasis in Nuclear Medicine Technology (NMT) will become the standard for entry-level work in this field.
Which Schools Offer Certificate Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology?
Certificate programs in nuclear medicine technology are commonly available at many different colleges, such as the following schools:
- Midlands Technical College provides a Nuclear Medicine Certificate program
- The University of Kansas has a Nuclear Medicine Technology Certificate program
- Broward College houses a Nuclear Medicine Specialist Technical Certificate program
Which Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology?
Associate degree programs in nuclear medicine technology programs can be found at multiple schools. Below are a few of them:
- Houston Community College has an Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
- Bellevue College hosts a Associate in Arts in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
- Broward College offers an Associate of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
Which Schools Offer Bachelor Degree Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology?
There are a number of schools which allow students to earn a bachelor degree program in nuclear medicine technology. A handful of them are:
- University of Nevada Las Vegas delivers a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine degree program
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences provides a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
- University of Missouri has a Bachelor of Health Science in Nuclear Medicine degree program
Which Schools Offer Advanced Associate or Master Degree Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology?
Students interested in advanced associate or master degree programs in nuclear medicine technology have a variety of school choices. Below are a number of them:
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has a Nuclear Medicine Advanced Associate degree program
- University of Alabama at Birmingham houses a Master of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
- University of Mississippi has a Master of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program
How Do I Get Into A Program?
For the certificate program, you would need to have previously earned a bachelor's degree, and have completed a broad array of science prerequisites to be considered for admission. To gain admission into a bachelor's degree program, you would need to be accepted to the college that has an NMT-emphasis degree and meet the specific requirements of that institution. For the advanced associate's level, you need to have a bachelor's degree, hold a certification in advanced cardiac life support, and be able to demonstrate two years' worth of experience as an NMT.
What Classes Will I Take?
Beyond the general requirements, your classes will likely be heavy on physics and radiation, anatomy, chemistry and physiology. In addition, there will be coursework specific to the technology and techniques of nuclear medicine. There will also be an extensive internship period in which you will practice using nuclear medicine under the supervision of experienced NMT's.
Nuclear medicine technology students can pursue a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor degree program at the undergraduate level. Graduate students can choose from advanced associate or master degree programs; all of these programs will allow you to enter the workforce in the field.