Nuclear Medicine Schools

Nuclear medicine is a relatively new form of medical diagnosis and treatment. It is primarily a form of diagnostic imaging, allowing medical professionals to see inside in the internal structures of the body to diagnose illness and injury. Instead of using x-rays, a more familiar form of diagnostic imaging, nuclear medicine technologists inject or administer irradiated materials into a patientís body. These atoms travel through the body, concentrating in certain areas that have suffered from trauma or are abnormal as a result of disease. The use of so-called radiopharmaceuticals comes with certain inherent dangers. Nuclear medicine professionals learn how to use these materials safely at nuclear medicine schools.

The job title that graduates of nuclear medicine schools usually have is nuclear medicine technologist. You will often find nuclear medicine schools affiliated with a radiology department at a university. Most candidates for nuclear medicine program will already have an undergraduate degree in a related subject. Some schools confer graduate degrees, while others are certificate programs for working professionals. States require nuclear medicine technologists to be certified by a state-approved licensing agency. Nuclear medicine schools help their graduates meet the requirements set by the licensing agencies. Graduates are more prepared for the licensing exam they must take.

Most nuclear medicine schools follow a fairly standard curriculum. Students will study radioactivity extensively, including the history and science of radiation and such specific aspects of radiation as decay. There will be coursework in diagnostic imaging and which type is appropriate for which patient. Nuclear medicine is not appropriate for certain patients, like expectant mothers. Nuclear medicine students will also study at magnetic resonance image (MRI), ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as other tools available to medical professionals. The instruments and techniques used in these imaging methods will be discussed and used. There will be preparatory work in statistics and computer science, two disciplines that are widely applied in nuclear medicine.

Nuclear medicine is used in the endocrine system, the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and, in fact, all the systems of the body. Of course, nuclear medicine schools teach the specific skills needed by nuclear medicine technologists on the job. Students will study the effects of radiation on the human body. This includes the best practices of radiation dosage limits for all kinds of people and techniques to reduce peopleís unnecessary exposure during procedures will be covered. The handling of radioactive waste will be taught. Worst case scenarios, like radiation overexposure, come up and students are taught how to best treat the damage involved. All aspects of safety and regulatory reporting are covered.

Finally, students at nuclear medicine schools learn the techniques for administering radiopharmaceuticals and understanding their effects. The creation and pharmacology of the radiopharmaceuticals themselves will be the subject of one or more classes. Students learn about the different kinds of radiopharmaceuticals, their effects, and how they are labeled. Government regulations regarding the use of radiation in medical and laboratory setting studied carefully. There are also classes in using nuclear medicine with different populations: children, women, the elderly, and those with cancer.

The therapeutic use of radiopharmaceuticals is covered in coursework at nuclear medicine schools. Using therapeutic nuclear medicine can help certain cancers, like thyroid cancer and bone cancer. Students learn what indications in patients might require such therapy. They learn about the side effects of the therapy as the dosages differ from imaging to therapy. There is also coursework on caring for patients, monitoring their recovery, and follow up procedures.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014