Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Guide - NMT (NMTCB), NMT (AART)
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Being able to see into the body without surgery or invasive procedures is critical for diagnosing patients. Physicians utilize many imaging technologies to do so, including x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and computed tomography (CT). Often these scans include the use of radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer to see diseases that couldn’t otherwise be observed. Tests using these radioactive substances are performed by nuclear medicine technologists (NMTs).
Nuclear medicine techs have completed a nuclear medicine technology education program. They can earn either a certificate or associate degree. As part of their education, NMTs learn about radiopharmacology, anatomy, nuclear physics, radionuclide therapy, and immunology. Most of these programs also include a clinical experience component giving students valuable hands-on experience.
Completing an education program is required to earn either an American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or a Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) NMT certification. This program must be approved by an authoritative accreditation entity as this guarantees curriculum content, the excellence of faculty, and quality of facilities. While certification is optional, it is industry-standard and is can be required for employment or state licensure.
Continue reading to learn what it takes to earn a certification as a nuclear medicine technologist, including what the tests entail and what materials to review before the exam.
Early Preparation in High School to Become a Nuclear Medicine Tech
Graduating from high school or earning a GED is the first step towards a career as an NMT, as this is a requirement for most NMT education programs. Completing high school or GED testing demonstrates commitment towards completing an educational program as well as a minimum level of competency.
Students who wish to pursue a career in this field should focus on classes such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, biology, chemistry, and math. Because NMT programs can be competitive, it is highly recommended to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher upon graduation.
The two primary certifications for nuclear medicine technologists are Nuclear Medicine Technology from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and Nuclear Medicine Technologists (NMT) from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). Both organizations require postsecondary education to be eligible to sit for their exam and earn certification.
While this field can be entered into with as little as a certificate, it should be noted that earning a bachelor’s degree can be advantageous for employment or advancement. Below are the requirements to obtain certification.
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) NMT Certification
NMT (ARRT) Certification Eligibility
Eligibility requirements to sit for the Nuclear Medicine Technology (NMT) certification exam from the ARRT are:
- Have an associate’s degree or higher
- Complete an ARRT-approved nuclear medicine education program
- Apply for certification within three years of completing the educational program
- Be of good moral character
NMT (ARRT) Exam Preparation
To sit for the NMT certification exam, candidates must first submit an application to test. To apply, candidates must pay a $200 exam fee, provide proof of education, a recent color photo, and a completed application. Once an application is approved, candidates will be given a 365-day exam window during which they must schedule and take the exam. If the window is missed, then a candidate must reapply to take the exam.
Content covered in the Nuclear Medicine Technology certification exam includes:
- Patient care
- Image production
Students should review all resources at their disposal, including reference textbooks from coursework completed and reputable online sources. Detailed exam content outlines are available on the ARRT website, including tips on what topics the questions will focus on. This computer-based exam consists of 200 multiple choice scored and 20 non-scored questions and takes four hours to complete. The non-scored, or pilot, questions are interspersed with the scored questions and are indistinguishable. They are included in the exam to help develop questions for future tests.
Immediately following the exam, candidates will receive a preliminary scaled score, which is not an official score. The official score will arrive by mail approximately four weeks later and will include certification and registration results.
NMT (ARRT) Certification Renewal
ARRT-certified NMTs are required to renew their certification every year. To renew, technologists must pay a $30 fee online. The date to renew certification and submit continuing education requirements are not the same.
Continuing education (CE) requirements must be submitted every two years. The deadline date to submit CE information is the last day of the month before the birth month of the applicant every other year. The requirements are one of the following:
- Earn 24 CE credits
- Earn certification and registration in a discipline not previously held and recognized by the AART
- Earn a postprimary certification and registration not previously held and recognized by the AART
In addition to renewals and CE credits, certification-holders must complete Continuing Qualifications Requirements (CQR) every ten years. This process identifies gaps in a certificate holder’s knowledge and crafts a plan to help them refresh their education.
Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) NMT Certification
NMT (NMTCB) Certification Eligibility
To be eligible to sit for the NMT exam from the NMTCB candidates must meet one of the following educational requirements in the past five years:
- Complete an NMTCB recognized nuclear medicine technology program, or
- Complete a certificate, associate, bachelor’s or graduate program from an institution accredited by either the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (JRCNMT), the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), the Armed Forces Military Training Commands, or the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine (ANZSNM), including clinical training in radiation safety, radiopharmacy, clinical procedures, and instrumentation.
NMT (NMTCB) Exam Preparation
Candidates for the NMT (NMTCB) exam must submit an application to take the exam. In addition to providing a completed application, candidates must pay a $175 application fee. One the application has been approved, candidates will receive an authorization to test letter with a list of sites to take the exam. Candidates have a three-month window in which to take the exam.
The NTMCB does not publish a comprehensive list of study materials for this exam, but offers the following guidance. Applicants should be familiar with:
- Practical experience, especially compared to the 2017 Job Analysis Report published by the NMTCB to ensure they have all the required skills
- Current NMT textbooks and medical journals
- Tasks that comprise the NMTCB Examination Matrix
- The Components of Preparedness (COP) statements and how they relate to each task
The exam is only 90 questions in length, and candidates will have one hour and fifty-five minutes to complete it. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so if a candidate doesn’t know an answer, then guessing can’t hurt. The exam covers the following topics:
- Radiation Physics & Detection
- Radiation Safety & Regulations
- Pharmaceutical & Radiopharmaceutical Agents
- Instrument Operations & Quality Control
- Clinical Procedures
Preliminary test results will be available at the test site immediately following the exam. An official score report will be mailed a few weeks after the exam.
NMT (NMTCB) Certification Renewal
NMT (NMTCB) certification holders must renew their certificates annually. Renewals can be completed online and must be accompanied by the $40 renewal fee. Every two years, certificate holders must submit proof of 24 hours of continuing education from NMTCB approved organizations.
State Licensure for Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Many states now required NMTs to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but typically include testing, submitting an application, and paying an application fee. In some states, certification from the ARRT or the NMTCB may be substituted for state testing.
For example, Florida requires NMTs to be licensed. The requirements for licensure are:
- Pay a $50 application fee and $175 exam fee (if required)
- Complete an ARRT- or NMTCB-recognized education program
- Hold an NMT certification from the ARRT or NMTCB or pass the state licensing exam
- Complete an approved four-hour HIV/AIDS education course that contains instruction on Florida’s HIV/AIDS laws
- Pass a criminal background check
- Submit a completed application
Candidates for licensure should check with their local licensing boards to ensure they meet all the requirements.