Nuclear Medicine Technologist Schools
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For people with a unique combination of sociability and a love of technology, a career as a nuclear medicine technologist (NMT) may be a wise choice. This job leverages both a savviness with cutting edge medical equipment and a desire to interact with patients, counseling them through the procedures. NMTs use equipment such as computed tomography (CT) machines, radiation-sensitive cameras, and dosage meters, helping both young and old patients get the care they need for potentially life-threatening illnesses.
While an associate (A.A.S.) degree can get a person started in the field, most nuclear medicine technologists continue on to get a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree. High-profile nuclear medicine technologist schools such as Johns Hopkins University and Vanderbilt University offer students fantastic on-campus options, and there are several 100% online B.S. and certification options available for those with related medical technology experience or credentials.
Successful NMTs tend to be good with people, and have a drive to continually learn about the workings of the human body. In addition to critical thinking skills and grace under pressure, a nuclear medicine technologist must be able to memorize key facts, diagnoses, and data, and then synthesize that and apply it in order to correctly administer radiologic tests and analyze results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2014) reports that these medical professionals make an average annual salary of $71,970, much higher than the average for all American occupations.
If all of this sounds enticing, read on.
|Nuclear Medicine Technologist fast facts|
|Projected Jobs Created||4,200|
|Projected Job Growth||20%|
|Average Salary (Median)||$71,970|
|Entry-Level EDU||Associate's Degree|
|Sourced from BLS, January 2015|
Degree & Certification Programs
In order to begin a career as a nuclear medicine technologist, students must earn at least an associate (A.A.S.) degree.
Here is a sampling of reputable universities that offer nuclear medicine technology programs:
Johns Hopkins University – As the No. 1 ranked school for biomedical fields by U.S. News and World Report (2014), this is one of the finest institutions for studying nuclear medicine technology. This 18-month program leads to certification as an NMT and computed tomography (CT) specialist. Students of this program also have some of the most prestigious clinical experiences at hospitals like the Johns Hopkins Hospital and University of Maryland Medical Center.
Oregon Institute of Technology – The U.S. News and World Report (2014) recently ranked this small school in Oregon as the second best public school in the nation. The OIT B.S. in nuclear medicine technology is one of the best values in the nation, with in-state tuition less than $9,000 and out-of-state less than $24,000. In addition, graduates from this program have a 100% pass rate for both the AART and NMTCB board exams.
University of Iowa – Named one of the top 100 clinical medicine schools by the U.S. News and World Report (2014), UI has a stellar reputation for offering students the best technology and training in the medical field. This four-year NMT program is helpful for students, as it requires them to complete the majority of another degree before being accepted. This means that, upon graduation, you are potentially eligible for two fields of employment instead of one.
Vanderbilt University – This college is continually ranked as one of the best in the U.S. and the world, according to U.S. News and World Report. This 12-month program is highly intensive, and prepares students to be nationally certified. For this school, the exam pass rate is 93%, graduation rate is 97%, and 63% of the 2013 graduates found jobs within six months of graduation.
List of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Schools
|School||City||State||Website||Total grads (2013)|
|Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale||Fort Lauderdale||Florida||http://www.keiseruniversity.edu||54|
|Community College of Allegheny County||Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania||https://www.ccac.edu||29|
|University of Cincinnati-Main Campus||Cincinnati||Ohio||http://www.uc.edu||21|
|University of Wisconsin-La Crosse||La Crosse||Wisconsin||http://www.uwlax.edu/Home/Future-Students/||19|
|Triton College||River Grove||Illinois||http://www.triton.edu||19|
|Cincinnati State Technical and Community College||Cincinnati||Ohio||http://www.cincinnatistate.edu||19|
|Chattanooga State Community College||Chattanooga||Tennessee||https://www.chattanoogastate.edu/||19|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham||Alabama||http://www.uab.edu/home/||18|
|Houston Community College||Houston||Texas||http://www.hccs.edu||18|
|Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus||Indiana||Pennsylvania||http://www.iup.edu||16|
|Hillsborough Community College||Tampa||Florida||http://www.hccfl.edu||16|
|Santa Fe College||Gainesville||Florida||http://www.sfcollege.edu||15|
|Oregon Institute of Technology||Klamath Falls||Oregon||http://www.oit.edu||15|
|Miami Dade College||Miami||Florida||http://www.mdc.edu/main/||15|
|University of the Incarnate Word||San Antonio||Texas||http://www.uiw.edu||14|
|Weber State University||Ogden||Utah||http://www.weber.edu||13|
|Universidad Central Del Caribe||Bayamon||Puerto Rico||http://uccaribe.edu/||13|
|Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College||South Charleston||West Virginia||http://www.bridgevalley.edu/||13|
|Saint Louis University||Saint Louis||Missouri||http://www.slu.edu||12|
|GateWay Community College||Phoenix||Arizona||http://www.gatewaycc.edu||12|
|College of DuPage||Glen Ellyn||Illinois||http://www.cod.edu||12|
|University at Buffalo||Buffalo||New York||http://www.buffalo.edu||11|
|Macomb Community College||Warren||Michigan||http://www.macomb.edu||11|
|Jefferson Community and Technical College||Louisville||Kentucky||http://www.jefferson.kctcs.edu||11|
|Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute||Hudson||North Carolina||http://www.cccti.edu||11|
|Old Dominion University||Norfolk||Virginia||http://www.odu.edu||10|
|Columbus State Community College||Columbus||Ohio||http://www.cscc.edu/||10|
|Cuyahoga Community College District||Cleveland||Ohio||http://www.tri-c.edu||9|
|The University of Findlay||Findlay||Ohio||http://www.findlay.edu/||9|
|Springfield Technical Community College||Springfield||Massachusetts||http://www.stcc.edu||9|
|Fayetteville Technical Community College||Fayetteville||North Carolina||http://www.faytechcc.edu||9|
|Gateway Community College||New Haven||Connecticut||http://www.gatewayct.edu/||8|
|Frederick Community College||Frederick||Maryland||http://www.frederick.edu||8|
|Del Mar College||Corpus Christi||Texas||http://www.delmar.edu||8|
|Broward College||Fort Lauderdale||Florida||http://www.broward.edu/Pages/home.aspx||8|
|University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences||San Juan||Puerto Rico||http://www.rcm.upr.edu||7|
|Robert Morris University||Moon Township||Pennsylvania||http://www.rmu.edu||7|
|Mayo School of Health Sciences||Rochester||Minnesota||http://www.mayo.edu/mshs/||7|
|Horry-Georgetown Technical College||Conway||South Carolina||http://www.hgtc.edu||7|
|Gloucester County College||Sewell||New Jersey||http://www.rcgc.edu/Pages/Home.aspx||7|
|Delgado Community College||New Orleans||Louisiana||http://WWW.DCC.EDU||7|
|Baptist Health Schools-Little Rock||Little Rock||Arkansas||https://www.bhclr.edu/||7|
|Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences||Lancaster||Pennsylvania||http://www.pacollege.edu/||6|
|Oakland University||Rochester Hills||Michigan||http://wwwp.oakland.edu/||6|
|Midlands Technical College||West Columbia||South Carolina||http://www.midlandstech.edu||6|
|Manhattan College||Riverdale||New York||http://manhattan.edu/||6|
|Loma Linda University||Loma Linda||California||http://www.llu.edu/index.html||6|
|Johnston Community College||Smithfield||North Carolina||http://www.johnstoncc.edu||6|
|Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis||Indianapolis||Indiana||http://www.iupui.edu||6|
|Georgia Regents University||Augusta||Georgia||http://www.gru.edu||6|
|Adventist University of Health Sciences||Orlando||Florida||http://www.adu.edu||6|
|Southeast Technical Institute||Sioux Falls||South Dakota||http://www.southeasttech.edu||6|
|Prince George's Community College||Largo||Maryland||http://www.pgcc.edu||6|
|University of Vermont||Burlington||Vermont||http://www.uvm.edu||5|
|University of Mississippi Medical Center||Jackson||Mississippi||https://www.umc.edu/||5|
|University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College||Blue Ash||Ohio||http://www.ucblueash.edu/||5|
|Stony Brook University||Stony Brook||New York||http://www.stonybrook.edu||5|
|Forsyth Technical Community College||Winston Salem||North Carolina||http://www.forsythtech.edu/||5|
|Edinboro University of Pennsylvania||Edinboro||Pennsylvania||http://www.edinboro.edu/||5|
|Bluegrass Community and Technical College||Lexington||Kentucky||http://www.bluegrass.kctcs.edu/||5|
|York College Pennsylvania||York||Pennsylvania||http://www.ycp.edu||4|
|University of Nebraska Medical Center||Omaha||Nebraska||http://www.unmc.edu||4|
|University of Central Arkansas||Conway||Arkansas||http://uca.edu/||4|
|Lincoln College of New England-Southington||Southington||Connecticut||http://www.lincolncollegene.edu||4|
|Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington||Wilmington||Delaware||https://www.dtcc.edu/our-campuses/wilmington||4|
|Carl Sandburg College||Galesburg||Illinois||http://www.sandburg.edu||4|
|Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences||Memphis||Tennessee||http://www.bchs.edu||4|
|Wheeling Jesuit University||Wheeling||West Virginia||http://www.wju.edu||3|
|University of Kansas||Lawrence||Kansas||http://www.ku.edu||3|
|Union County College||Cranford||New Jersey||http://www.ucc.edu||3|
|Owens Community College||Perrysburg||Ohio||https://www.owens.edu||3|
|Muhlenberg Harold B and Dorothy A Snyder Schools-School of Imaging||Plainfield||New Jersey||http://www.jfkmuhlenbergschools.org||3|
|West Virginia University Hospital Departments of Rad Tech and Nutrition||Morgantown||West Virginia||http://www.wvuhradtech.com||2|
|University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey||Newark||New Jersey||http://www.umdnj.edu/||2|
|Saint Cloud State University||Saint Cloud||Minnesota||http://www.stcloudstate.edu||2|
|Oakland Community College||Bloomfield Hills||Michigan||https://www.oaklandcc.edu/||2|
|University of Nevada-Las Vegas||Las Vegas||Nevada||https://www.unlv.edu/||1|
|Salem State University||Salem||Massachusetts||http://www.salemstate.edu||1|
|Lorain County Community College||Elyria||Ohio||http://www.lorainccc.edu||1|
|Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg||Harrisburg||Pennsylvania||http://www.hacc.edu||1|
|Cedar Crest College||Allentown||Pennsylvania||http://www.cedarcrest.edu||1|
|University of St Francis||Joliet||Illinois||http://www.stfrancis.edu||1|
Hybrid & Online programs
University of Cincinnati
The George Washington University (MSHS)
While there are no entry-level nuclear technologist programs that can be completed 100% online due to the essentially clinical nature of the discipline, there are some options available for students seeking the flexibility and convenience of an online program.
For instance, there are bachelor of science (B.S.) degree continuation programs that can be completed online. These are open to those who already have an associate (A.A.S. or A.S.) or hold a certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB):
Adventist University of Health Sciences – This B.S. in radiologic sciences program can be completed online. It’s a solid option for certified professionals looking to advance their qualifications. This school is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), among other regional organizations.
Ferris State University – Although the main campus is located in Missouri, many of the courses for this B.S. in nuclear medicine can be completed online. Some of the classes include instrumentation, imaging, cardiology, research methodology and radiopharmacology. There are seven required nuclear medicine classes as well as coursework in epidemiology and statistics, supervisory practices, physics, advanced composition, biology, communications, cultural enrichment, and social awareness. Some of these program requirements can be fulfilled through transferred coursework.
In addition to these accredited degree completion programs for practicing professionals, some hybrid (online + in-person) programs are an option at schools which offer coursework online, even for entry-level NBT candidates.
Be sure to check program websites and course catalogues to see which schools qualify.
|School||City||State||Website||Total grads (2013)|
|Ferris State University||Big Rapids||Michigan||http://www.ferris.edu/||48|
|Pitt Community College||Winterville||North Carolina||http://www.pittcc.edu||17|
|University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences||Little Rock||Arkansas||http://www.uams.edu||12|
|University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center||Oklahoma City||Oklahoma||http://www.ouhsc.edu/||7|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City||Iowa||http://www.uiowa.edu||2|
Core & Elective Courses
While course requirements may vary from school to school, most nuclear medicine technology (NBT) degree programs have the same basic structure. Core classes such as biology and chemistry are generally required, and there are separate elective courses for students who want to specialize in pre-medicine, health information management, or business administration.
Here is an overview of the typical course structure of an accredited NBT program:
- Positron Emission Tomography – This course covers all elements of PET, including tomography composition, scintillation crystallization, and time-of-flight imaging. Students are also taught how to use PET imaging agents and data analytics.
- Nuclear Chemistry and Physics – Students learn why certain nuclides are radioactive, and discuss radiation interactions and decay models. They also discover the crucial differences between nuclear and physiological imaging.
- Radiopharmacy – In this course, students identify the most common nuclear medicine pharmaceuticals and how they interact with patients, in addition to how to prepare and dose these medicines.
- Radiation Biology – Students explore how to identify safe and unsafe levels of radiation, as well as symptoms of radiation exposure. They also discuss how cells respond to radiation and how to protect patients from overexposure.
- Clinical Procedures – In this class, students get a strong background in the various purposes and processes of radiation imaging. Clinical procedures covered generally include hematology, immunology, blood volume determination, bone densitometry, and nuclear neurology.
- Clinical Internship/Practicum – Students work under a board-certified radiologist to complete the clinical requirement: 1,300 supervised hours. Twenty competencies are required, including cystogram, ductogram, tube injections, and barium enema. It is during this portion of the degree program that students can choose elective courses to specialize in health information management or pre-medical studies.
All nuclear medicine degree programs are generally approved through the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). The JRCNMT is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only organization qualified to evaluate nuclear medicine programs.
The JRCNMT provides a thorough evaluation of each college that it endorses, including several onsite visits, a curriculum review, and educator interviews. Representatives from the major radiologic fields—American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the Association of Educators in Imaging and Radiologic Sciences (AEIRS), Association of Medical Imaging Management (AHRA), and the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD)—also may independently evaluate the college’s program to ensure it meets national standards.
Although this is a very high-paying job in a growing field, the number of positions that will be created over the next eight years is only 7,200, according to O*NET (2014). Still, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2012), projects that growth in this field will continue to increase by 20% – much faster than the national average. As the baby boomer population ages over the next decade, this will lead to an increasing need in these types of diagnostic services. However, the demand for CT, PET, or NCT imaging tests is still not high enough to propel the type of job creation as in other fields of medicine.
While job creation will continue to be limited, pay for these jobs will continue to be very competitive, with the lowest earners making over $51,000 per year and the highest earners making over $94,000 (BLS, 2013). There are currently over 20,000 employed as nuclear medicine technologists, with the majority of them employed in general medical and surgical hospitals. States with the highest numbers of nuclear medicine technologists include Florida, California, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania.
As with other medical professions, education plays a major role in how easy it is to land one of these hard-to-find nuclear medicine technology jobs. Students who only have an associate degree may find it difficult to compete with those who have gone on to gain additional certification. Specialty certifications like positron emission technology (PET) and nuclear cardiology (NCT) can increase the likelihood of employment and higher salary (BLS, 2012).
|Career Facts||Nuclear Medicine Technologist|
|Related Careers||Radiologic Technician, Surgical Technologist, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers|
|Common Job Titles||Nuclear Medicine Technologist (NMT)|
|Technology & Equipment||Radiation Detectors, Liquid Scintillation Counters, CT or CAT Callibration Devices, Medical Radiation Dosimeters|
|Sourced from BLS, January 2015|
Licensing & Certification
Only those certified by the Nuclear Medicine Certification Board (NMTCB) can become professional nuclear medicine technologists. Many state-level licensure bodies, such as the California Department of Public Health – Radiologic Heath Branch, require a passing score as a key element of the certification process. In addition, some states require a state-level exam in addition to the national test to meet certification standards.
In addition to the NMTCB exam, you must have completed a nuclear medicine degree or appropriate coursework at a school endorsed by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT). You will be required to show your education level in core subjects such as Clinical Procedures, Nuclear Instrumentation, and Radiation Biology.
Finally, it is impossible to be fully licensed as an NMT without significant experience hours. Many colleges provide the required 1,300 hours of clinical experience that will qualify you to be certified. You will also be required to produce a letter from your university program director (or supervising radiologist) verifying your experiences with core competencies such as in vitro tests, imaging studies, radioactive administration, and blood withdrawal.