What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine is a type of medical imaging that uses radioactive isotopes to diagnose diseases. It combines knowledge from chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology and medicine. A nuclear technologist administers a small amount of radioactive material to a patient, then tracks the course of the radioactivity with equipment such as a gamma camera or probe. Since radioactive particles can move freely inside the body, nuclear imaging provides information about both the structure and function of major organ systems.

Program Overview

Demand for health care has never been greater. As the Baby Boom generation nears retirement, the health care industry finds itself facing personnel shortages in almost every area, including the rapidly emerging field of nuclear medicine technology.

Robert Morris University offers the only four-year nuclear medicine program in the Pittsburgh area. Traditionally, nuclear medicine technologists have earned associate degrees. But today's technology is more complex, and many institutions are looking to hire graduates with the depth of experience and knowledge that can only come from bachelor's-level education.

RMU's B.S. in Nuclear Medicine Technology degree program, developed in keeping with the Institute of Medicine's vision for the future of health care, emphasizes digital technology and new imaging modalities. The program is organized in imaging studies tracks that provide specific instruction in areas such as nuclear medicine technology, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Students complete all coursework and clinical requirements necessary to sit for the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT) certification exam.

In 2012, 83.3% of the NMED students successfully passed the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) as first time examinees. One month post graduation, 100% of the Class of 2012 successfully passed the NMTB boards.

Students also have the option of advancing their careers by pursuing additional certifications in imaging technologies such as MRI, CT and positron emission tomography (PET). The program includes coursework needed for these certifications, and faculty members will work with interested students to help them fulfill additional clinical requirements.

This program was developed around RMU's vision of high-quality health care provided by teams of professionals who are trained to work together. Nuclear medicine students take courses in team building and teamwork, health economics, health law and ethics, and health policy alongside students in RMU's nursing and health administration degree programs.

Program Objectives

Upon completing the B.S. in Nuclear Medicine Technology program, students will have:

  • Strong fundamentals in basic science relevant to nuclear medicine technology, including chemistry, physics, anatomy, pharmacology, psychology and biology;
  • Multidisciplinary skills that use rapidly evolving instrumentation in nuclear medicine, CT, MRI and PET.
  • An empathetic and instructional approach to patient care;
  • Intra- and extra-disciplinary skills in teamwork that emphasize collaboration;
  • The ability to prepare, safely handle, calibrate and administer radiopharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals;
  • The capability to demonstrate proper operation of imaging, laboratory and computer instrumentation and their quality control procedures to insure instrumentation credibility and reliability; and
  • The skills necessary to utilize technologies to minimize radiation exposure to patients, the general public and health care personnel, consistent with the As Low as Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) concept.

Curriculum

The B.S. in Nuclear Medicine Technology program requires 128 credits in three areas:

  1. Robert Morris University Core - 40 credits
    These are the traditional liberal arts requirements of the University. Studies in humanities, communications skills, and social, behavioral, natural and quantitative sciences are included.
  2. Science Requirements - 29 credits
    This component includes classroom and laboratory work in anatomy, physiology, biology, physics and statistics.
  3. Nuclear Medicine Technology - 59 credits
    This component includes courses in radiation physics, radiation safety, nuclear medicine technology and techniques, health care administration, quality control, radiopharmacy and instrumentation as well as clinical practicum courses.

Career Outlook

Employment prospects for nuclear medicine technologists are excellent. The U.S. Department of Labor projects faster than average growth in this sector through 2014 as the population ages and technology continues to evolve. Western Pennsylvania is home to nearly 75 hospitals, and since RMU is the first and only school in the region offering a four-year degree in this field, the University's graduates will hold a strong competitive advantage in the local job market.

Salary Information

According to a recent survey by the Society of Nuclear Medicine (www.snm.org), the national average salary for full-time nuclear medicine technologists is $70,470. The average in the Mid-Atlantic states is $71,260.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit the following to the Office of Admissions:

  1. A completed application and a non-refundable $30 application fee. Or apply online for free at www.rmu.edu.
  2. Official transcripts from high school and any colleges or universities attended
  3. Official SAT or ACT scores
  4. Two professional letters of reference
An interview may be requested by either the applicant or the Department of Nuclear Medicine but is not routinely required.

Recommended Course Work

The following high school course work is recommended for admission to the program:

CourseNumber of Units
English4 units
Algebra1 unit
Other Math1 unit
Social Studies3 units
Biology With Lab1 unit
Other Science With Lab1 unit
Electives5 units
Total16 units

Other Program Requirements

Applicants must be able to:

  • Visually observe and assess a patient, discriminate color and depth, read and accurately complete reports, and visualize diagnostic/monitoring equipment in dimmed light;
  • Possess the auditory capabilities to monitor and assess patient health needs, monitor various equipment and background sounds, and communicate by telephone.
  • Verbally communicate in a clear and concise manner;
  • Communicate sufficiently to interact with others in appropriate verbal and written form;
  • Read and interpret relevant medical data from patients' charts, reports and orders;
  • Safely lift and transfer patients to beds, chairs and stretchers with assistance or assistive devices;
  • Safely push a gurney or wheelchair;
  • Stand or sit for an extended period of time;
  • Demonstrate sufficient manual dexterity to perform activities specific to this program;
  • Possess critical thinking skills sufficient to think clearly and act professionally, safely, and accurately in stressful situations; and
  • Professionally interact with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds.

Transfer Students

Students who have completed at least 12 credits or one full term of study at another accredited post-secondary institution are considered to be transfer students. All transfer applications will be reviewed by the Department of Nuclear Medicine Technology.

To be considered for admission, transfer students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or greater on a 4.0 scale. Applicants who have completed less than 30 college credits will be evaluated on their academic performance in high school as well as college. Courses with a clinical component taken at another school will not be accepted for transfer credit.

Concentrations