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Nuclear Medicine Technologist Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations -
Overview PowerPoint - Overview Podcast


Diagnostic imaging embraces several procedures that aid in diagnosing ailments, the most familiar being the x-ray. In nuclear medicine, radionuclides -- unstable atoms that emit radiation spontaneously -- are used to diagnose and treat disease. Radionuclides are purified and compounded to form radiopharmaceuticals. Nuclear medicine technologists administer radiopharmaceuticals to patients and then monitor the characteristics and functions of tissues or organs in which the drugs localize. Abnormal areas show higher-than-expected or lower-than-expected concentrations of radioactivity. Nuclear medicine differs from other diagnostic imaging technologies because it determines the presence of disease on the basis of metabolic changes rather than changes in organ structure.

Nuclear medicine technologists operate cameras that detect and map the radioactive drug in a patient's body to create diagnostic images. After explaining test procedures to patients, technologists prepare a dosage of the radiopharmaceutical and administer it by mouth, injection, inhalation, or other means. They position patients and start a gamma scintillation camera, or "scanner," which creates images of the distribution of a radiopharmaceutical as it localizes in, and emits signals from, the patient's body. The images are produced on a computer screen or on film for a physician to interpret.

When preparing radiopharmaceuticals, technologists adhere to safety standards that keep the radiation exposure as low as possible to workers and patients. Technologists keep patient records and document the amount and type of radionuclides that they receive, use, and discard.

There are two areas of specialty for nuclear medicine technologists—nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography (PET). Nuclear cardiology typically involves myocardial perfusion imaging, which, like most nuclear medicine, uses radiopharmaceuticals and cameras to image the body. Myocardial perfusion imaging, however, requires that patients perform exercise so the technologist can image the heart and blood flow. Technologists specializing in PET operate a special medical imaging device that produces a 3-D image of the body.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Resources

Online

Overview:
Overview of the work of Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Preparation:
Programs, Degree Fields
Day in the Life:
The Workplace
Earnings:
Salary Ranges, Statistics
Employment:
Employment Options
Career Path Forecast:
Predictions for the field
Professional Organizations:
Resources, Networking, Support
Podcast:
Overview of the work of Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Internet Resources:
American Society of Radiologic Technologists

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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