Nuclear Medicine Technology

  • Career Information and 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.

    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.

    Tuition, Fees, and Expenses

    • Students pay full University of Iowa undergraduate tuition and all mandatory student fees while in the program (which typically totals of four semesters and one summer term). To view current tuition and fee rate tables, click on the link to the Office of the Registrar’s website below and then select “College of Medicine” is the dropdown menu provided in the upper right hand corner of the webpage.
      http://www.registrar.uiowa.edu/TuitionandFees/TuitionandFeeTables/tabid/95/Default.aspx
    • Tuition and fees are assessed via University U-bill
    • All students majoring in the health sciences are required to carry health insurance. There is coverage offered by the University and students will automatically be enrolled in this program unless they provide proof of coverage through another provider (see below). Click on the link to the University Human Resources website below to view the coverage details of the policy and current monthly rates.
      http://hr.uiowa.edu/benefits/health-insurance-graduate-students
    • 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. A “Proof of Coverage Exemption Form” can be downloaded by clicking the appropriate link on the University Human Resources website. The completed form is to be mailed directly to the University Human Resources Department whose address is provided on the form.
    • The textbooks required while in the program will cost approximately $800-$1000 in total. Because many of these textbooks will be used in multiple classes throughout the program, most are to be purchased before the first day of classes their first semester. A textbook list will be provided to students well before their start date.
    • Uniforms - two white waist-length lab jackets are required (approximately $30-40 apiece).
    • Students are eligible to apply for financial aid as administered by the University Office of Student Financial Aid. Click on the following link or call (319) 335-1450 for information and/or appointments.
      http://www.uiowa.edu/financial-aid/

    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.

    ARRT Certification Rates:

    Year
    Program 1st Attempt Passing Rate
    National 1st Attempt Passing rate
    Program Mean Scaled Score
    National Mean Scaled Score
    2013
    100%
    94.0%
    86.0
    84.1
    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
    2013
    100%
    88.2
    79.5
    78.3
    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
    2013
    6
    6
    100%
    2012
    5
    5
    100%
    2011
    8
    8
    100%
    2010
    9
    9
    100%
    2009
    10
    10
    100%

    Program Placement Rate

    Graduating Year
    # Employed in Nuclear Medicine within 6 Months
    # Pursuing Additional Education Immediately After Graduation
    Placement Rate *
    2013
    2
    1
    50%
    2012
    3
    1
    80%
    2011
    8
    0
    100%
    2010
    4
    0
    44%
    2009
    8
    2
    100%

    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.