Online Degrees in Nuclear Medicine Technology
Degrees in Nuclear Medicine Technology: The world of nuclear medicine covers the application of radioactive materials in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. The development of nuclear medicine dates back to the 1930s when scientists around the world were experimenting with radioactive materials in the lab. After World War II, the first case of a successful human treatment of cancer with nuclear medicine happened in 1946. Since this point, the advancement of the field has been steady, escalating rapidly in the past couple of decades.
When talking about nuclear medicine, two professions are most common: nuclear medicine physician and nuclear medicine technologist. The nuclear medicine physician is a medical doctor who has taken special training in nuclear medicine. They work with oncologists and other specialists to treat diseases like cancer with radioactive materials. They generally work closely with nuclear medicine technologists who are the ones who actually apply the radioactive materials to the patient. This discipline is the one most likely to involve taking classes online.
Nuclear Medicine Technology Degree Levels Available Online
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
Master's Degree: 1-3 years to complete
Doctorate Degree: 4-6 years to complete
In the world of nuclear medicine technology, the didactic coursework is what a student can take online. This particular piece of the medical world requires labs and clinical hours for the student to show skills and to obtain expertise in the discipline. To practice as a nuclear medicine technologist, more than half of the states require a practitioner to hold certification and licensing. In order to qualify for either, the student must successfully complete an associate's degree in this field from an accredited college. The degree must contain certain courses and the student must complete a certain number of clinical hours to graduate.
This profession has two tracks for entry: getting an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology or getting a certificate in the field for those who hold another medical degree. The associate's degree usually combines general coursework with classes specifically designed to train the student in the world of nuclear medical technology. The specific coursework at this level include anatomy, chemistry, physics, radiation safety, patient care, radiopharmacy, clinical nuclear medicine, and medical procedures.
The certificate program is only for medical professionals who want to enter the area of nuclear medicine technology. This program generally lasts 12 months and covers the specific courses in the field of nuclear technology.
The bachelor's degree offers additional classes and exposure to advanced diagnostic equipment. For those already in the nuclear medicine technology field, going the next step in their career may mean getting a bachelor's degree.
Post-graduate education options are similar to the certificate programs at the undergraduate level. The applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in the medical field before being accepted to the program. The program also lasts about 12 months and introduces the basics of nuclear medicine to the student.
For those entering an undergraduate program in nuclear medicine technology, the entry requirements are stiff. The student must have a high school diploma or a GED. For formal acceptance to the NMT program, the applicant usually has to complete some courses at the college level in topics like physics, chemistry, biology, and English. With the appropriate GPA, the student can gain acceptance to the program. Competition for many programs is quite heavy.
In addition to certain courses, students must also pass a background check to work in many medical professions. Some crimes will preclude a person from entering a program. Many programs require the student to have current medical insurance and pass a physical.
Applicants with another degree in medicine may qualify to enter a certificate program in nuclear medicine technology, at either the undergraduate or graduate level. They will need to provide transcripts showing GPAs and have recommendations. These programs are also very competitive.
Online Nuclear Medicine Technology vs. Traditional College Programs
The reality of the nuclear medicine technology field is that students cannot omit on-campus work completely. The programs that offer options online still require students to come to the campus a few times a year to complete lab work and to see advisors. When choosing a program, keep that fact in mind.
Most online nuclear medicine technology programs require students to complete their didactic work through the online materials. These classes cover the academic side of the program. The student takes tests and completes assignments as directed by their instructors much like they would in a class room setting. Lab work is usually required for science and nuclear medicine classes. However, the schools that offer online didactic work provide options for students to complete the lab work with minimal campus visits required.
Clinical hours are something that at student has some flexibility with. Some online programs work with specific nuclear medicine centers in their area to provide clinical hour opportunities for students. If the student works at a nuclear medicine center already, some programs allow them to do their clinical hours in the work setting with proper certification and supervision.
The online versus traditional program argument is specific to the student. Some students do better with face-to-face instruction, while others are okay working on their own at home.
Tuition and Accreditation
The tuition costs for a nuclear medicine technology degree varies according to the school and the location. Typically an associate's degree can cost between $7500 and $10,000. The costs include tuition, books, lab fees, lab coats, and other equipment required for the program. Private college costs can be significantly higher than public one. A certificate program can run around $4000 to $5000. A bachelor's program will run $15,000 to $20,000.
Accreditation is very important in the world of nuclear medicine technology. The accreditation is required for students to sit for the national certification exam. While several states do not require the exam, many employers will not hire a technologist without the certification exam.
Choosing the Best Nuclear Medicine Technology Degree
Take your time in choosing a school for your nuclear medicine technology degree. Talk with someone at the school about how students work online and on-campus requirements. Be sure to look at all options and make your choice wisely.