Those interested in working with emerging technology in the medical field may want to look into studying nuclear medicine technology. Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree programs in nuclear medicine technology may be the first step to an entry-level job.
A.A. Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology
Students enrolled in Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate of Arts (A.A.) programs in nuclear medicine technology can expect to become adept at administering radiopharmaceuticals for ingestion by patients aimed at helping to diagnose diseases and illnesses. Students are taught about radiopharmaceutical chemistry, health science, and nuclear medicine instruments and equipment. Coursework also covers positron emission tomography (PET) and cardiology. Some associate degree programs allow transfer of credits to a four-year bachelor’s degree program in nuclear medicine technology. Schools often collaborate with medical centers including hospitals to impart practical training to students in a clinical setting.
Admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students enrolled in many schools are also required to complete high school or college-level classes in chemistry, medical terminology, statistics, and algebra, statistics, medical terminology, and chemistry, with a grade of ‘C’ or higher.
Coursework in most programs covers subjects such as radioactive materials and nuclear medicine, in addition to general education classes in subjects such as science, math and speech communication. Work experience in the form of clinical rotations is also included in the coursework related to most programs. Coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Nuclear medicine instruments
•Fundamentals of PET
•Nuclear pharmacy applications
•Nuclear medicine technology
•Anatomy and physiology
•Imaging of internal organs
Job and Wage Outlook
A job growth rate of 20% has been projected for nuclear medicine technologists during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). This will translate into about 4,100 new positions over the decade. In May 2012, nuclear medicine technologists took home an average annual wage of $70,180.
Licensure, Certification and Continuing Education Choices
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) among other agencies provide voluntary certification options for A.A. and A.S. program graduates to seek. Passage of a written exam and completion of continuing education can help them earn certification. Licensure is compulsory in some states for nuclear medical technologists (BLS). Many employers prefer licensed professionals.