What Do Nuclear Medicine Technologists Do?
Nuclear medicine technologists perform a battery of diagnostic tests involving radioactive isotopes. They work with a variety of radioisotope equipment in order to administer medical testing at the request of medical practitioners. They work with stock solutions of radioactive materials and must determine the appropriate doses. Technologists work closely with radiologists and must follow laboratory techniques when administering radiation to patients. Safety is always a priority.Many opportunities exist in the field of nuclear medicine. These positions are growing at a rate of 20% annually. The projected job openings over the next few decades could be as much as 720 positions per year. As the population ages and medical technology advances, technologists will continue to be in high demand.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Skills and Abilities
Working as a nuclear medicine technologist requires both technical and people skills. You will be working directly with patients who may be anxious about testing procedures. You must provide a quality of care that comforts as well as gathers information for diagnostic purposes. Technologists need to have a strong background in sciences, including biology, physics, and medical knowledge. As with any medical career, you can expect to continue your education in order to implement new standards of care and technology. Other important skills include:
- Critical thinking.
- Excellent oral and written communication.
- Monitoring equipment and patient reaction.
- Problem sensitivity and confidentiality.
- Excellent near vision.
- Organization of data.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Duties
Nuclear medicine technologists work directly with radioactive isotopes under medical supervision. They administer radiation intravenously to detect or treat disease. Using a camera, they track radioactive pharmaceuticals in patients’ bodies and monitor vital functions of organ systems during testing. Strict safety regulations must be followed at all times. When working with patients, technologists must explain testing procedures and provide assistance to patients. They will also record data, produce computer-generated or film images for physician interpretation. Other duties are:
- Preparing, use, and dispose of radioactive material stock following safety protocols.
- Monitor, calibrate, and operate testing equipment.
- Document and record information and test results.
- Record medical histories.
- Train and supervise subordinate technologists and other medical attendants.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Tools and Technology
Highly specialized equipment is used in nuclear medicine. As a technologist, you will be working with medical compute tomography, CT, or CAT quality devices. You will administer radioactive material with the use of hypodermic needles. Technologists employ liquid scintillation counters to measure doses. You may also use medical gamma cameras for images during testing and radiation detectors for monitoring exposure levels. Some of your job duties will require the use of software, including electronic mail, medical programs, spreadsheets, and office suite software.
Education and Training for Nuclear Medicine Technologists
In order to work as a nuclear medicine technologist, you should earn an associate’s degree in nuclear medical technology. A degree program will provide the training and clinical experience required for this position. Associates’ degrees can be obtained from a variety of college settings, including trade schools and community colleges.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Salary
You can earn a good salary in this line of work. The median annual earnings for a nuclear medicine technologist are $72,100. The bottom 10% can make $52,100, while the top 10% earn $96,600. Your salary will depend on your geographic region of the country as well as your level of experience.
Nuclear Medicine Technologists Jobs by Geography
States with more dense populations tend to have a greater number of openings for nuclear medicine technologists. Texas, Florida, and California all have the most positions in this field. The states that should see the most growth over the next few decades are Texas, Arizona, and Utah. You can find the highest median salary ranges in California, Hawaii, and Connecticut.