Nuclear Medicine Technologist Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Nuclear Medicine Technologist, or Nuclear Med Tech, is responsible for providing patients with radioactive medication and operating imaging technology to track the radiation within the patient’s body. Their duties include sterilizing syringes, preparing patients for a scan and processing image reports that indicate the presence of disease.

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Nuclear Medicine Technologist Duties and Responsibilities

Nuclear Medicine Technologists are responsible for many tasks throughout the work day. A job description for a Nuclear Medicine Technologist may contain the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Explain medical procedures to patients and answer any questions they may have.
  • Follow safety procedures to protect the patients and themselves from unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • Prepare and administer radioactive drugs to patients.
  • Monitor and watch for any unusual reactions patients may have to drugs.
  • Operate imaging equipment.
  • Maintain detailed procedure records.
  • Follow safety and disposal radiation procedures.

What Does a Nuclear Medicine Technologist Do? 

Nuclear Medicine Technologists work at hospitals and imaging labs alongside Nuclear Medicine Phyicians to examine a patient’s internal organs, bones and muscles for potential abnormalities. Their role is to give radioactive medication to patients through injection, inhalation or oral administration, allowing the radiation to make it easier to see infections, tumors or signs of an internal disorder. Nuclear Medicine Technologists use imaging technology to capture images for the attending Physician to interpret. They are in charge of implementing safety procedures to protect patients and medical staff from unnecessary exposure to radiation during treatment.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Skills and Qualifications

Nuclear Medicine Technologists spend a lot of time interacting with patients, so an understanding of medical procedures and patience are crucial skills. A job description for a Nuclear Medicine Technologist may contain the following skills and qualifications:

  • Ability to use technology
  • Analytical skills
  • Compassion
  • Detail-oriented
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Physical stamina

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Salary Expectations 

The average salary for a Nuclear Medicine Technologist is $36.96 per hour. This information is based on 266 anonymously submitted salaries to Indeed from employees and users along with past and present job title job postings on Indeed within the last 36 months. 

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Education and Training Requirements

A Nuclear Medicine Technologist position usually requires a minimum of an associate degree in nuclear medicine, though many employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree. Some candidates may become qualified for the position by combining a 12 month certification program in nuclear medicine technology with an associate or bachelor’s degree program in a health field such as nursing or radiologic technology. 

Nuclear medicine technology programs typically include coursework in computer science, radioactive drugs, chemistry, physics and human anatomy and physiology. In addition to the coursework, clinical experience is also required. 

After graduating from an accredited program, Technologists can choose between earning a certification in nuclear cardiology or positron emission tomography (PET). Nuclear medicine programs are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology. Candidates must graduate from an accredited program in order to become licensed. 

Nuclear Medicine Technologist Experience Requirements 

While not required for licensure, the majority of Nuclear Medicine Technologists obtain some sort of certification as it fulfills many of the same requirements of state licensing. It’s not uncommon for employers to require candidates to be certified regardless of state regulations. 

Certification begins with the successful completion of a nuclear medicine technology program from an accredited school. Both the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offer certification opportunities. 

In addition to obtaining a general certification, Nuclear Medicine Technologists also have the ability to earn specialized certifications based on their proficiency with certain equipment and in completing specific procedures. Certifications Technologists can earn include computed tomography (CT), nuclear cardiology (NCT) and positron emission tomography (PET).

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Frequently asked questions about Nuclear Medicine Technologists

 

What is the difference between a Nuclear Medicine Technologist and a Radiologist?

Nuclear Medicine Technologists and Radiologists both work with medical scans but they have different specialties and work with different types of equipment. Nuclear Medicine Technologists serve a support role, preparing patients to undergo scans with imaging equipment so that the Doctor can later interpret their results and identify potential problems. Radiologists are Medical Doctors who use x-rays to diagnose disease. Nuclear Medicine Technologists aren’t Doctors but usually have a technical certification from the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists in addition to coursework related to nuclear medicine.

 

What are the qualities of a good Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

A good Nuclear Medicine Technologist should be detail-oriented and excellent at following directions and procedures. Good Nuclear Medicine Technologists enjoy working with numbers and scientific concepts. Safety should be their top priority, and they should exercise caution when handling hazardous materials and measuring out the correct dosage for their patients. Good Nuclear Medicine Technologists communicate clearly and provide clear instructions for their patients when preparing for a scan. They should be able to multitask and manage multiple patients at once, coordinating the use of different equipment to each patient based on the type of medical imaging they need.  

 

What are the daily duties of a Nuclear Medicine Technologist?

Nuclear Medicine Technologists prepare the treatment room before patients arrive, adjusting the temperature and humidity before running quality control tests on the scanner. They check out protective equipment and safely transport radioactive material to the room. They greet the patients and gather paperwork, then help the patient prepare for a scan and administer radioactive medication, carefully recording the radiation dose. The Nuclear Medicine Technologist maps the location of the radioactive material using the scanner and records the resulting images on the lab computer. They might collect medical samples and use radiation to test the levels of different chemicals and hormones.

 

What should you look for on a Nuclear Medicine Technologist's resume?

When hiring a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, look for resumes that feature experience in a healthcare or laboratory environment. Strong candidates will emphasize their time management and organization skills to demonstrate their ability to treat patients according to a schedule and handle their medical records. Look for applicants who provide clear information on their certification status and licensing in your state.

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