Needed: Nuclear medicine advanced associates

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CHICAGO—Nuclear medicine has grown tremendously in the last 15 years, creating the need for a new clinical specialty—nuclear medicine advanced associates, said David Gilmore, program director school of nuclear medicine technology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Gilmore presented at the 94th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Changes in the nuclear medicine world have been fast and furious, but education has not kept pace. During the 1990s, new radiopharmaceuticals opened door to nuclear cardiology work, and the advent of PET/CT has made oncology studies a mainstay of many nuclear medicine departments. The broader nature of the field created a need for a new specialist. There is a gap between entry level training and clinical practice needs, said Gilmore.
Between 2000 and 2008 the Society of Nuclear Medicine surveyed techs, physicians and program directors to outline the needs and vision for the new profession.

The new title—nuclear medicine advanced associate—represents an advanced practice level.

The master’s degree program is designed to prep participants to serve as a physician extender with duties ranging from radiopharmaceutical administration, performing stress tests and ordering complementary exams to clinical leadership.

The initial program is a collaboration among University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences, St. Louis University and University of Missouri. The program is designed to allow participants to obtain clinical competencies during employment with coursework divided between didactic and clinical halves. All didactic coursework is online, enabling participants to complete the degree from any location in the U.S. Participants must secure a local physician preceptor to oversee the clinical portion of the program.

The goal, said Gilmore, is to launch the first program in the fall of 2009 and use the consortium framework as a model for future programs.