Nuclear Medicine Technology

  • Career Information & Outlook

    The nuclear medicine technologist (NMT) is a highly skilled individual who has a solid background in anatomy, physiology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, radiation safety, clinical nuclear instrumentation, and laboratory technique. Under the supervision of a physician, the NMT either directs or participates in the daily operation of the nuclear medicine department.

    The responsibilities are varied and can include performing radiation safety and quality control procedures, preparing and administering radiopharmaceuticals, operating nuclear medicine instruments, positioning patients for imaging procedures, collecting, preparing, and analyzing biologic specimens, and preparing data for the physician's interpretation.

    Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's O*NET (29-2033.00 - Nuclear Medicine Technologists) for additional career information.

    Nuclear Medicine Technology is the medical specialty concerned with the use of small amounts of radioactive material for diagnostic, therapeutic, and research purposes. It is a vigorous, dynamic field that has grown phenomenally over the years and is expected to continue to grow in the future.

    Nuclear Medicine procedures use radioactive materials to:

    1. Perform body function studies and organ imaging,
    2. Analyze biologic specimens, and
    3. Treat disease.

    Organ imaging in patients requires the intravenous, oral administration, or inhalation of radioactive materials (called radiopharmaceuticals). When administered, these radiopharmaceuticals localize in a specific organ or organ system of the body. Instruments called scintillation cameras can then detect the radiation emitted by the radiopharmaceutical concentrated in the organ and produce an image of the organ on a computer screen or photographic film. These images provide a way of studying the structure and measuring the function of that organ, as well as a way of identifying tumors, areas of infection, or other disorders. Imaging procedures provide information that can assist the physician in diagnosing diseases. The patient experiences little or no discomfort and the radiation dose is small.

    Radioactive analyses of biologic specimens provide great accuracy and sensitivity. Blood, urine, or other specimens collected from the patient may be combined with radioactive materials to measure the level of various components in the sample such as hormones, drugs, or other chemical substances. Sample collection is simple, and because the radioactive material is added to the specimen outside the body, the patient is not exposed to radiation.

    Therapeutic doses of radioactive materials can be administered to patients to treat a specific disease. Although not used as frequently as diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures, treatment of disease with radiopharmaceuticals is a valuable contribution to patient care.

    2010 - 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics Outlook

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational outlook for nuclear medicine technologists is expected to increase by 16 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will arise from technological advancement, the development of new nuclear medicine treatments, and an increase in the number of middle-aged and elderly persons, who are the primary users of diagnostic and treatment procedures.

    For statistics on salary expectations and additional information on a career in Nuclear Medicine Technology visit the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos104.htm).

    2013 - 2014 Tuition, Fees, and Expenses

    • Students offered admission into the program must pay a non-refundable NMT Program acceptance fee ($300). If the student was not already enrolled at the University of Iowa, he or she must also pay the University of Iowa’s standard application fee ($40) and the University of Iowa’s acceptance fee ($250) which will be assessed via U-bill.
        
    • Students applying program hours towards a baccalaureate degree must pay full University of Iowa undergraduate tuition (Fall 2013/Spring & Summer 2014: $8,402/yr. for residents; $32,130/yr. for nonresidents).
        
    • Students receiving only a certificate of completion and zero hours of credit pay a reduced hospital-based tuition established specifically for the NMT program (For Fall 2013/Spring & Summer 2014: $5000/yr.). The full-year certificate tuition is due, in the form of at cashier’s check, on the first day of program.
        
    • All students are required to pay mandatory students fees which include a technology fee ($395/yr.), a student activity fee ($88.03/yr.), a student services fee ($93/yr.), a student union fee ($151/yr.), a building fee ($155/yr.), an arts and cultural events fee ($30/yr.), and a recreational services fee ($310/yr.). Students in a degree program must also pay a Career Services fee ($33/yr.) and a student health fee ($298/yr.). Students in the certificate program must also pay a miscellaneous non-degree certificate program fee ($1,100/yr.). The mandatory student fees are assessed via University U-bill for all NMT students.
        
    • A students majoring in the health sciences are required to carry health insurance. There is coverage offered by the University. As of September 1, 2012, this policy has a cost of $125 per month of coverage. A student may obtain health insurance through another provider, but will then be required to provide proof of coverage to the University before the first day of classes.
        
    • Textbooks and calculator ($800-900) - all books needed for the whole year are bought at the start of the program.
        
    • Uniforms ($70-100) - two white waist-length long-sleeved lab jackets are required.
        
    • National Board Examination Fees: Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board "NMTCB" ($175) - applications can be sent in two months before the projected graduation date.
        
    • National Board Examination Fees: American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, "ARRT" ($200) - applications can be sent in two months before the projected graduation date
        
    • Students are eligible to apply for financial aid as administered by the University Office of Student Financial Aid. Call (319) 335-1450 for information and/or appointments.

    Commitment to the Pursuit of Quality

    The Nuclear Medicine Technology Program takes great care in its pursuit to select and educate top quality technologists. The items below provide verification of our commitment to this pursuit.

    Certification Examination Rates

    Program graduates sit for at least one of two (or both, if they wish) national certification examinations. Both the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) provide certification for graduates of accredited nuclear medicine technology programs. Since 1990, the program has maintained a 100% first attempt pass rate on the ARRT and a 99% pass rate on the NMCTB. Below are the average scores of the graduates from the past 5 years. A scaled score of 75 is the minimum passing scores for both exams.

    AART Certification Rates:

    Year
    Program 1st Attempt Passing Rate
    National 1st Attempt Passing rate
    Program Mean Scaled Score
    National Mean Scaled Score
    2012
    100%
    91.4%
    86
    84
    2011
    100%
    91.1%
    85.7
    84.1
    2010
    100%
    91.4%
    88.3
    83.8
    2009
    100%
    93.7%
    84.9
    85.0
    2008
    100%
    94.5%
    85.5
    84.7

    NMTCB Certification Rates: 

    Year
    Program 1st Attempt Passing Rate
    National 1st Attempt Passing Rate
    Program Mean Scaled Score
    National Mean Scaled Score
    2012
    100%
    91.3
    79.8
    78.25
    2011
    100%
    94.9
    80.38
    78.47
    2010
    89%
    92.4
    81.6
    77.5
    2009
    100%
    94.3
    81.4
    76.7
    2008
    100%
    91.7
    80.5
    77.2

    Program On-Time Completion rate Information 

    Graduating Year
    # of Students Starting the Program
    # of Students Graduating on Time
    Completion Percentage
    *2012
    X
    X
    X
    *2011
    X
    X
    X
    *2010
    X
    X
    X
    2009
    10
    10
    100%
    2008
    10
    10
    100%

    * Due to federal privacy issues when less than 10 people start or graduate from the program this data is not listed.

    Program Placement Rate

    Graduating Year
    # Employed in Nuclear Medicine within 6 Months
    # Pursuing Additional Education Immediately After Graduation
    Placement Rate *
    **2012
    X
    1
    75%
    **2011
    X
    0
    100%
    ** 2010
    X
    0
    44%
    ** 2009
    X
    2
    100%
    2008
    10
    0
    100%

    * Placement rate is calculated using the Joint Review Committee on Education Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology (www.jrcnmt.org) methodology.
     ** Due to federal privacy issues when less than 10 people start or graduate from the program this data is not listed

    Median Student Debt Load 

    Year
    # of Graduates
    Total Debt Median
    Federal Debt Median
    Median Count
    Median
    Median Count
    Median
    2010
    9
    7
    $12,500
    6
    $12,500

    These median debt figures are developed and provided by the UI Office of Student Financial Aid.