Completion of a degree program is required for aspiring nuclear medicine technologists, while prospective nuclear medicine physicians will need to complete a residency program. In California, three schools offer programs in nuclear medicine that prepare students for state and national certification exams. The bachelor's programs can be completed in four years (two years with initial general education credits) and feature classroom and hands-on, clinical experiences. Residency programs can take from 1-5 years, depending on school requirements.
Loma Linda University
Located in Loma Linda, this Christian university educates over 4,000 students. Through the School of Allied Health, students can complete a bachelor's degree program in nuclear medicine. Two versions of the program are available for students who are new to the field and for those who are already radiologic technicians. The programs run for 24 or 27 months, depending on the student's pre-existing ARRT credential status. Both programs include classroom lectures and clinical training. To qualify, students must have current CPR certification, 24 hours of career observation in nuclear medicine and have completed a number of general education credits. By completing this program, students qualify to take the ARRT nuclear medicine exam, if they are not already certified, and the NMTCB exam.
University of California-Davis
Located in the city of Davis, this school is tied as the 11th best public university according to the U.S. News and World Report 2016 college ranking. Through the Department of Radiology, students may complete a bachelor's program to prepare for employment as nuclear medicine technologists or complete a nuclear medicine residency program to become medical doctors. The bachelor's program is offered in conjunction with the Oregon Institute of Technology. Students in this program spend their senior year completing a clinical externship at a partner hospital. For the residency program, students are required to complete a 1-year accredited clinical internship in a discipline such as emergency medicine, internal medicine or neurology to gain admission. The department also offers a 5-year combined program in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. Students within the department also have the opportunity to operate diagnostic equipment such as positron emission tomography (PET) imaging scanners, bone density DEXA cameras and whole body single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) cameras.
University of California-San Francisco (UCSF)
Located in San Francisco, UCSF is the only institution within the University of California system that offers programs exclusively in the health sciences field. Through the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, post-graduate medical students can train to become nuclear medicine physicians. The program runs for three years and is approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Training is offered to students who have already completed one year of internship experience in a medical discipline. Students who've completed a residency in another specialty can complete the program in two years and those who've completed a residency in diagnostic radiology can finish the program in one year.
The California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch regulates the practice of nuclear medicine in the state. To qualify for state certification, applicants must pass a state exam. Those who are already nationally certified with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) are exempt from taking the state exam. Candidates must also submit a letter from their supervisor or training program director stating that they have performed certain diagnostic procedures.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Nuclear Medicine Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Loma Linda University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine||$34,012|
|University of California-Davis||4-year public; small suburb|| Nuclear Medicine Technologist Bachelor's Program,
Nuclear Medicine Residency Program
|$14,402 per year for residents; $43,394 per year for non-residents|
|University of California-San Francisco||4-year, public; large city||Nuclear Medicine Residency Program||N/A|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator