Nuclear medicine uses radionuclides, which are atoms that release radiation impulsively, used to analyze and to treat some diseases. These radionuclides form radiopharmaceuticals by purifying its atoms. First, the Nuclear Medicine Technologists administrate radiopharmaceuticals to the patients. Then, they analyze the characteristics and function of tissues or organs where the radioactive drugs are placed.
The nuclear medicine technologists use devices like cameras to detect and locate the radioactive drug in the patient body to create an analytic image. They first explain to the patient the complete process and then they inject the radioactive drug into the patient?s body, so the gamma scintillation camera will make images of the radiopharmaceutical. This image is reproduced in a computer screen or in film so that it can be interpreted by the right specialists.
The technologists keep the radiation in safe levels so that workers and patients are not injured. They also have a record of the amount, type of the radiopharmaceutical received, discarded and used. They also do radioimmunoassay studies to analyze the behavior of the drug in the blood or the level of hormones.
The nuclear medicine technologists work 40 hours per week, including working in departments that need additional time or an extended schedule. They also wear shield syringes, globes badges and several other protective devices.
More than 17,000 of nuclear medicine technologists are required annually. Most of them are needed in hospitals, clinics and in laboratories.
The nuclear medicine technologists must have a certificate from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board, as well as meeting the Federal standards. The program is 1 to 4 years in length and gives certificate, associate degree and the bachelor?s degree.
The nuclear medicine technologists earn from $48,700 to $57,000 per year.