Nuclear medicine is a form of diagnostic imaging that uses radiopharmaceuticals to help produce images used for diagnosing diseases, infections, and other health problems. Nurses, diagnostic medical sonographers and radiologic technologists are among those who often pursue a certificate in nuclear medicine.
An associate's degree in a related field such as radiation therapy or diagnostic medical sonography is a prerequisite for admission to a nuclear medicine certificate program. For 12 months, students of a certificate program engage in hands-on experience in a controlled classroom environment and, eventually, through a required internship at a medical office or hospital.
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Nuclear Medicine Certificate Program
Nuclear medicine professionals administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients and then operate scanners, also called gamma cameras, to detect the distribution of radiation emissions in the body. To train students to perform this kind of imaging, the curriculum of certificate programs in this field 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
- Radiation safety
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly income for nuclear medicine technologists as of May 2015 was $73,360. In 2014, there were 20,700 positions held nationwide. The employment of Nuclear Medicine Technologists (NMTs) is projected to grow by 2% between 2014 and 2024, 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.
Nuclear medicine certificate programs teach students how to handle imaging equipment and administer radioactive pharmaceuticals required to produce diagnostic images. Graduates of the program can obtain certification from the NMTCB or ARRT after completing the required training and passing an examination.