CCAC offers only Nuclear Medicine Technology Associate Degree in Western Pennsylvania

Nuclear Medicine
 
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

Students receive real-world, risk-free training in mock radiopharmacy lab.

 

PITTSBURGH-The Community College of Allegheny County is the only institution between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg that offers an accredited Nuclear Medicine Technology Associate of Science Degree program, providing students with a unique opportunity to enter a well-paying field with two years or less of affordable training. Offered at Allegheny Campus, the program boasts a new mock radiopharmacy lab where students gain valuable hands-on experience in the classroom. Students are well-prepared to become nuclear medicine technologists, whose responsibilities include the administration of radiopharmaceuticals (medicine that is attached to a small quantity of radioactive material) and operation of the imaging equipment.

The new lab has four stations where students practice preparing radiopharmaceuticals, performing quality control, drawing doses and doing venipunctures (the process of obtaining intravenous access on a patient) prior to attending clinical rotations. Purchased with funds from a Carl. D. Perkins Career and Technical Education grant, the equipment includes tabletop lead shields, lead syringe carriers, lead vial shields, lead syringe holders, quality control supplies, shipping containers, venipuncture training arms, venipuncture supplies and an injection chair.

According to Lori Duke, professor and program director, students are able to hone their skills without any risk in the radiation-free lab before they ever leave the classroom. Duke also uses the lab to demonstrate techniques on the equipment during lectures.

"The mock equipment setting gives students extensive hands-on practice so they can perfect their technique without radiation exposure before going to clinical rotations and administering radiopharmaceuticals to patients," said Duke. "They can learn to handle the radiopharmaceuticals speedily and efficiently, which maximizes safety and reduces their radiation exposure."

The job outlook for graduates is bright-according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nuclear medicine technologists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Also of note, experienced professionals may earn more than $75,000-the median annual wage for nuclear medicine technologists was $76,820 in May 2018 (starting salaries are lower). In fact, in a CNBC report dated Jan. 26, 2019, the occupation is included in a list of 15 jobs that pay more than $75,000 that can be obtained without the time and cost required for a bachelor's degree.

In addition to the Nuclear Medicine Technology Associate Degree program, CCAC offers a Nuclear Medicine Technology Certificate for students with bachelor's degrees in science and for certified professionals working in the fields of radiology, nursing or radiation therapy. Students in the Nuclear Medicine Technology programs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Edinboro University spend their final year at CCAC to simultaneously earn their certificate and bachelor's degree.

Graduates also have the opportunity to complete a certificate in Computed Assisted Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which only takes an additional six months. Having this specialty makes technologists even more marketable in the region and beyond.

For more information about CCAC's Nuclear Medicine Technology Associate of Science Degree and Certificate programs, visit ccac.edu or contact Professor Lori Duke at lduke@ccac.edu.

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