If you are looking for a people-oriented career and have an interest in computer technology and medicine, why not take up nuclear medicine. This field is an amalgamation of several scientific areas, including medicine and computer science. In addition to being able to serve humanity, you are paid quite well for your services.
Knowing what nuclear medicine is
Small doses of radioactive material are used to diagnose and treat certain medical conditions. This procedure is referred to as nuclear medicine. Nuclear medicine imaging is different from other diagnostic tests like x-ray or ultrasound. Diagnostic tests focus on the structural appearance of the organ. On the other hand, nuclear medicine imaging focuses on the functioning of the organ to determine the cause of the problem.
Doctors perform millions of nuclear medicine tests in the United States every year. During these tests, radioactive material is inserted into the patient’s body. There are three ways of doing this – swallowing, inhaling or by injection. Different materials are used for different areas of the body. An appropriate amount of the radioactive material is used so that the patient is not exposed to excessive radiation.
Applications of nuclear medicine imaging
In most cases, nuclear medicine is used to analyse the heart, lungs, thyroid and gallbladder. It can also be used in identifying lesions that are located deep inside the body. Thus, there is no need for surgery to cut open the patient. Nuclear medicine imaging is not advised for pregnant women. This is because unborn babies are more sensitive to children or adults. In such cases, the concerned doctor might recommend a different diagnostic test.
Nuclear medicine training
Only licensed physicians practice nuclear medicine, with adequate support from qualified technologists and pharmacists. This field combines many areas of science to diagnose and treat diseases – mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science and medicine. It goes without saying that students who wish to pursue nuclear medicine imaging have to undergo a high degree of training.
What do nuclear medicine technologists do?
As a nuclear medicine technologist, you are a highly specialized and trained professional who assists the nuclear medicine physician. Your responsibilities include preparing and administrating nuclear medicine, performing patient imaging procedures and analysing biological specimens. You will also be working closely with the patient, especially during the imaging procedure. During this procedure, you will be required to win the patient’s confidence.
Nuclear medicine technologist schools
To become a technologist, you need to complete a NMT program from one of the many recognized nuclear medicine technologists schools. You could choose to do a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. Although the pre-requisites depend on the type of program you choose, the basic criteria is that you have a background in science and an interest to serve people. During this program, the student will learn a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge about the following – nuclear physics, statistics, biochemistry, anatomy, immunology and more. If you are an experienced technologist who wishes to specialize in this field, you can opt for a one-year certification program.
Some renowned nuclear medicine technologist schools include Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Keiser University, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas and the University of Utah.