Nuclear Medicine Technology
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Nuclear medicine technology involves the use of radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals, to create images of organs, study body functions, analyze biological specimens and treat disease. Nuclear medicine technologists apply the art and skill of diagnostic imaging and therapeutics through the safe and effective use of radionuclides.
For organ-imaging procedures, radiopharmaceuticals are administered to patients intravenously, orally or by inhalation. The radioactive material concentrates in a specific organ or organ system. Instruments called scintillation cameras can detect the radiation emitted by the radiopharmaceutical concentrated in the organ. The camera produces a computer image of the organ.
The images allow medical professionals to study the structure and measure the function of the organ and to identify tumors, areas of infection or other disorders. The radiation dose is small, and the patient experiences little or no discomfort during the procedure.
Nuclear medicine technologists play an integral role in the health care team, working with patients, physicists, nuclear pharmacists, computer specialists, nurses, secretaries and other health care professionals.
The field of nuclear medicine technology has grown significantly over the past few years. Career opportunities for nuclear medicine technologists are very good. With the growth of the middle-aged and older adult populations, demand will increase for diagnostic procedures, including nuclear medicine testing. In addition, advances in medical technology will likely increase the diagnostic use of nuclear medicine.
Nuclear medicine technologists are employed in hospitals, universities, medical clinics and research centers across the U.S. and abroad. After further study in nuclear medicine, you may advance to positions such as chief technologist, research technologist or educator. In addition, specialty certifications are available in nuclear cardiology and positron emission tomography for qualified technologists.
The Mayo Clinic Department of Radiology actively recruits nuclear medicine technologists as needed to serve patient needs. Search Mayo Clinic jobs.
According to the Department of Labor, annual salaries in 2012 were between $50,560 and $93,320 with a median of $70,180 (most recent data available). Salaries depend on employer and location, as well as work experience. According to a recent survey conducted by the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board, many survey respondents had more than 20 years of experience, indicating significant job retention and satisfaction.