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Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear medicine technologists work in various healthcare facilities.

Nuclear medicine technologists work in various healthcare facilities.

No, it’s not science fiction. Nuclear medicine is a one way doctors examine patients. They use radioactive materials and a special scanner to observe tissue function. A nuclear medicine technologist administers these tests and delivers the results to the overseeing physician.

Fast Facts

Minimum Degree Required: Associate’s

Top 3 Skills: Patient Interaction, Attention to Detail, Math and Science Skills

Average Starting Salary: $50,000

Job Description

The technologist works directly with patients before and during the imaging procedure. They must explain to the patient what is happening, and  assure them of the procedure’s safety, if necessary. Then the technologist follows steps to protect the patient and him/herself from excess radiation. After assuring that the machines are working properly, the technologist prepares and administers the radioactive drugs to the patient. The technologist then takes detailed images and reports of the specified area(s), and reports to the patient’s physician.

This type of test is almost always scheduled in advance, so night and weekend hours are unusual.

Education

An associate’s degree in nuclear medicine technology will thoroughly prepare students to become working technologists. It is also possible to obtain an associate’s degree in a related field, such as biomedical technology or medical imaging, and then follow up with a certificate program (12 months or less) specific to nuclear medicine.

Its a good idea to study anatomy, chemistry, and advanced math in high school if you wish to become a nuclear medicine technologist.

Certification/Licensing

The requirements vary by state, so check your state’s health board for details.

Job Outlook: Fair

While growth is predicted to be average, about 19%, the median salary for nuclear medicine technologists is well above the national standard, at $68,560 per year.

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