Nuclear Medicine Technologists belong to a highly specialized healthcare team. They work in close coordination with nuclear medicine physicians. They are responsible for preparing and administering radiopharmaceuticals or radioactive chemical compounds. They use specialized radiation detecting instruments in performing imaging procedures for patients. They help patients position themselves under a scanner that takes pictures of the pharmaceutical’s distribution in the patient’s body as the radioactive substance localizes inside the patient’s body and emit signals. They use computer programs to enhance the images obtained. Technologists provide data analysis and patient information for interpretation by the nuclear medicine physicians.
During the procedure to take an image, the technologist gets the patient’s medical history, describes the on going procedure to the patient and may answer any questions by the patient regarding the procedure to be performed. They monitor the patient’s condition while the procedure is being performed, and takes notes of comments made by patients that could help the doctor interpret the results.
Nuclear medicine technologists are responsible for reviewing patients’ medical records and the physician’s corresponding orders in order to determine the dosage of medicines patients require and how it is to be delivered to the patient, such as intravenous, inhalation or oral method. They must also evaluate the condition of the patients and must readily recognize any medical emergency situation that may arise.
Because the will be working with radiopharmaceuticals or radioactive substances, nuclear medicine technologies must know the safety procedures and regulations so they can protect themselves and limit their exposure to radiation. They must keep accurate records of patients they have as well as the type and amount of radionuclides they have received, used and discarded. Some technologist can be found doing administrative work, supervising students, lab assistants, NMT’s and other personnel.