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Nuclear Medicine Technologist


Description

Nuclear medicine technologists have an important role to play in the detection and treatment of various forms of cancer. These trained technologists acquire images that help pinpoint the nature of a disease, and help the doctors learn about how the disease is affecting the body. They can also help doctors learn how a patient is responding to various treatments.

Nuclear medicine technologists use radioactive drugs, called "tracers", to monitor patients. The tracers are usually injected into the patient, although sometimes the drugs are taken orally, in pill form. The tracers concentrate in specific organs, and release a very low level of radiation while the technologist attempts to collect data. This data is recorded by a special detector, called a "gamma camera". Using the data collected, a computer can produce images of the organ from different angles. They can even obtain cross-sectional images. They can transfer the images to a photograph or to a computer printout, which is given to the doctors to examine.

Nuclear medicine technologists are helpful in studying coronary disease, and to learn how the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs are functioning. Their technology can determine the location of tumors, monitor the progression of cancer and the results of cancer treatments, and even diagnose hormonal disorders. Without their expertise, many illnesses would go unnoticed. The early detection of cancer is one of the most important factors in the patient's survival, and the technologists can participate in the detection, and subsequent treatment, of may forms of the disease.
 
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Platt College
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Assisting

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$35,870
 
Median Salary:
$48,750
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$68,710

  Interests and Skills  
Nuclear medicine technologists need to be technologically minded, with a calm, sensitive demeanor, a gentle disposition, and a sense of humor. They are organized, efficient, and safety conscious, with a desire to help people. They must also work well with others, have good communication skills, and be open to other cultures and belief systems in order to succeed in this career.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Explain the procedure to the patient
  • Answer questions as fully as possible
  • Comfort the patient and provide emotional support
  • Correctly position the patient and the equipment
  • Prepare the tracer prescribed by the physician
  • Administer the tracer, by mouth or injection
  • Ensure that the patient, all staff, and visitors are protected from radiation
  • Monitor the patient during procedure
  • Conduct computer analysis to produce medical images
  • Perform any minor repairs to equipment when necessary
  • The typical day for a nuclear medicine technologist will involve working closely with a number of clients. The environment can be tense, due to the nature of the diseases being diagnosed and monitored. Nuclear medicine technologists work indoors, with little opportunity to travel.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Nuclear medicine technologists work in hospitals and health clinics. They work in offices, and in screening rooms. They work with radiation, and so they must be prepared to take safety precautions. They work regular hours, but may be required to work some evenings or weekends, depending on the clinic. They work in small teams of doctors, technicians, assistants, and receptionists.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Nuclear medicine technologists can become supervisors, or become college instructors. They can branch into other forms of radiation technology, or can go on to become public health nurses, teaching people about early detection of cancer. Or, they can become advocates for cancer sufferers and head up fundraising campaigns for research and support groups.
 

  Educational Paths  
In order to become a nuclear medicine technologist the completion a two- to three-year program in nuclear medicine technology is required. Nuclear medicine technologists may be required to join a professional society, depending on where they live.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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