Frequently Asked Questions
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a scientific and clinical discipline involving the diagnostic and therapeutic use of radionuclides. Simply put, Nuclear Medicine Technologists help treat disease and image the body. Nuclear medicine differs from other diagnostic imaging technologies because it determines the presence of disease on the basis of biological changes rather than changes in organ structure.
What does a Nuclear Medicine Technologist do?
Nuclear Medicine Technologists have a wide range of responsibilities, including patient care, abstracting data from patient records, calculating doses for In Vivo and In Vitro studies, preparing and administering radiopharmaceuticals, operating scanning equipment, performing computer acquisition and analysis of patient studies, and assisting the physician when using radiopharmaceuticals.
Where do Nuclear Medicine Technologists work?
Nuclear medicine professionals held about 18,000 jobs in 2004. About 7 out of 10 of these positions were in hospitals. Most of the rest of these positions were in physicians' offices or in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers.
How do I know if this type of career is right for me?
Nuclear Medicine Technologists should be sensitive to patients' physical and psychological needs. They must be able to pay attention to detail, follow instructions and work as part of a team. In addition, operating complicated equipment requires mechanical ability and manual dexterity. These professionals must also be willing and able to spend much of the day on their feet.
There are several questions that might help determine whether a career in nuclear medicine is right for you:
- Do I have a passion for helping others?
- Do I enjoy working with computer technology?
- Am I able to communicate well with others?
- Were math, biology and chemistry interesting classes for me in high school?
What is the salary for someone in this profession?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2006-2007 Occupational Outlook Handbook, median annual earnings for Nuclear Medicine Technologists were $56,450, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $80,300. Median annual earnings of Nuclear Medicine Technologists in May 2004 were $54,920 in general medical and surgical hospitals.
What is the current job outlook for Nuclear Medicine?
Faster than average growth (as much as a 27 percent increase) through 2014 will arise in this profession from an increase in the number of middle-aged and elderly persons, who are the primary users of diagnostic procedures. Growth will also result from technological advancement and the development of new nuclear medicine treatments such as the use of radiopharmaceuticals in combination with monoclonal antibodies to detect cancer at far earlier stages than is customary today, without resorting to surgery. Another is the use of radionuclides to examine the heart's ability to pump blood. New nuclear medical imaging technologies, including positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), are expected to be used increasingly and to contribute further to employment growth. The wider use of nuclear medical imaging to observe metabolic and biochemical changes during neurology, cardiology and oncology procedures also will spur demand for Nuclear Medicine Technologists.
Can you provide some general information on the COD Nuclear Medicine program?
The Diagnostic Medical Imaging - Nuclear Medicine (DMIN) program at COD delivers over 500 hours of classroom and lab learning activities and over 1,100 hours of clinical education during a 15-month sequence. In the DMIN program, students learn the skills necessary to produce high-quality diagnostic images of patients. The curriculum for this program includes clinical nuclear medicine, nuclear medicine procedures, nuclear physics, radiation detection with imaging and non-imaging instrumentation, radiation safety, radiation biology, radioactive material regulations, radiopharmacy, positron emission tomography, computer applications, and patient care. The student spends three days per week at the clinical affiliate and two days per week at the college.
Is there a separate application process for the Nuclear Medicine program?
Yes, in addition to enrolling at College of DuPage, a student must also complete a separate admissions process for this program. For details about this process, see the Nuclear Medicine Admissions Packet.
Is the Nuclear Medicine program at COD accredited?
The Nuclear Medicine program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Nuclear Medicine Technology. In 2005, there were 100 accredited programs in the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In addition, the following organizations recognize the COD Nuclear Medicine program accreditation: American College of Radiology, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Society of Nuclear Medicine, Society of Nuclear Medicine - Technologist Section, and the American Medical Association.
Upon successful completion of the Nuclear Medicine Technology program, the graduate is eligible to sit for the certification exams administered by the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT).
Joanne Metler, Coordinator
Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 2207L, (630) 942-3065
Health and Sciences Division
Health and Science Center (HSC), Room 1220, (630) 942-8331