Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Nuclear Medicine got its beginning in 1934 when Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie discovered artificially produced radioisotopes. Later, in 1946, nuclear medicine was first used in medicine. In 1971, Nuclear Medicine became an officially recognized medical specialty by the American Medical Association and this field of science has continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

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There is a large range in salary from the lowest paid Nuclear Med Techs to the highest but according to Salary.com; the median salary is around $68,000. This amount varies according to education, title, location, facility, hours worked, and specialty among other factors. For data according to specific parameters, many find The Salary Comparison and Salary Calculator Tool at about.salary.com a useful tool.

Job growth for the profession of Nuclear Medicine Technologist is expected to be at about 19% over the next 10 years, which is average. Advancements in medicine, technology, and research will likely continue to enlarge the scope of this profession.

Find current job opportunities for a Nuclear Medicine Technologist by visiting about.indeed.com

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Nature of the Work

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The Nuclear Medicine Technologist assists the Nuclear Medicine Physician in diagnosing and treating conditions. They work in an office, hospital, treatment facility, or imaging center. Because there are times that a test may be needed more urgently, they may work odd hours or at least be on call.

A Nuclear Med Tech will work directly with patients using technology and radioactive drugs to illuminate abnormal areas of the body to aid in diagnosing or treating diseases. Other duties that a Nuclear Medicine Technologist might perform are:

  • Explaining procedures or answering questions
  • Preparing radiopharmaceuticals for procedures and dispensing them to the patient before an examination or procedure
  • Monitoring a patient’s reaction to radioactive drugs
  • Following policy and procedure guidelines for patient and staff safety in general and as it relates to radiation exposure
  • Examining the machines and programs used to perform tests to ensure their safe and effective working order
  • Operating the machines and programs that take radioactive images
  • Keeping detailed and accurate records

There is a certain risk of exposure to radioactive material or infectious diseases for a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, but special badges that monitor exposure and regular tests, along with effective infection control techniques help to safeguard staff and patients against unhealthy levels or exposures.

Position Requirements

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A Nuclear Medicine Technologist will need to earn at least an associate’s degree from an accredited college although some will prefer to obtain a bachelor’s degree. A certificate program is not necessary for licensing necessarily, but many states and facilities require certification. Licensing requirements vary by state. All Nuclear Med Techs will need clinical experience and will need to continue their education after they are licensed or certified.

Working in the Medical Office

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There are certain qualities that all patient care professionals must possess. Some of those specific to Nuclear Medicine Technologists are:

An aptitude for math, science, and technology. A Nuclear Med Tech needs to be able to not only understand formulas and calculations but to utilize the information they have in a practical way when preparing and administering the nuclear materials to their patients.

An understanding of technology. Technicians work with computer programs specific to their field and specialized equipment and must be comfortable and proficient in manipulating these.

A medical background. They must have a working knowledge of anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and general patient care practices.

Attention to detail. A technician must keep accurate and detailed records.

Communication skills. In order to do their job well, the Nuclear Med Tech must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with physicians, staff, patients, and their families.

Compassion. Because the nuclear med technician will be working with individuals who have health concerns, they need to have compassion for patients and their patients’ family members.

Physical strength and endurance Nuclear Medicine Technologists will likely assist in transporting patients, help patients onto the equipment, help them maneuver to specific positions, and will be on their feet a great deal during the course of their day.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has designed and issued special fraud alerts to the health care provider community. These alerts were intended to publicize the national trends of fraud to the general public. It is also a way to provide insight and awareness on fraudulent practices within the industry and address violations specific to the Medicare and Medicaid Anti-Kickback Law.

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