February 27, 2006
National Education, Training Standards for Nuclear Medicine and Radiologic Technologists, Radiation Therapists Would Be Established
RESTON, Va.—The Senate version of the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence (known as RadCARE, S2322), which was introduced Feb. 17, provides for national education and credentialing standards for nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic technologists and radiation therapists and will improve the quality of patient care, says SNMTS President Valerie R. Cronin, CNMT, FSNMTS.
“The quality of patients’ radiologic exams improves by increasing the educational standards for those who perform them,” said Cronin, the director of imaging services in the Catholic Health System of Western New York in Buffalo, N.Y. “Patients will definitely benefit from passage of this bill. Under current law, basic training standards are voluntary in some states, allowing individuals to perform medical imaging procedures and radiation therapy treatments without any formal education,” she noted. “An individual specifically educated to perform imaging procedures knows correct patient positioning and technical factors, allowing for accurate diagnosis and treatment,” added Cronin, who speaks for the 8,000 nuclear medicine technologists of SNM’s Technologist Section.
“If passed, the Senate RadCARE bill—and the House’s similar CARE bill (HR 1426)—would help alleviate many of the current practice issues facing the molecular imaging/nuclear medicine profession with the establishment of national standards to govern the education and training of those that work in medical imaging,” agreed Lyn M. Mehlberg, CNMT, FSNMTS, chair of the SNMTS Advocacy Committee. She said that the bill would also address access issues, such as who can operate computed tomography (CT) equipment in states with regulation or licensure for radiographers but not for nuclear medicine technologists. “SNM and SNMTS leaders—along with members of both the SNM Government Relations and SNMTS Advocacy committees—resolve to seek answers to the very questions that create barriers to the growth of our profession,” added Mehlberg. Nuclear medicine technologists work with physicians to prepare and administer radioactive substances and monitor equipment to trace the movement and concentration of these materials in the body.
Members of SNMTS have collaborated with representatives from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists to promote passage of these national measures. SNMTS and ASRT are co-founders of the Alliance for Quality Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, a coalition of 17 medical imaging associations representing more than 300,000 allied health professionals interested in pursuing excellence in medical imaging and radiation therapy. The Alliance meets this week in Washington, D.C., to discuss the future of the RadCARE/CARE bills. “SNMTS is proud to collaborate with ASRT, other professional organizations, certification boards and accreditation bodies in establishing such fundamentally essential standards that will have an impact on medical imaging for years to come,” said Cronin. The RadCARE bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
SNM is an international scientific and professional organization of more than 16,000 members dedicated to promoting the science, technology and practical applications of molecular and nuclear imaging to diagnose, manage and treat diseases in women, men and children. Founded more than 50 years ago, SNM continues to train physicians, technologists, scientists, physicists, chemists and radiopharmacists in state-of-the-art imaging procedures and advances; provide essential resources for health care practitioners and patients; publish the most prominent peer-reviewed resource in the field; sponsor research grants, fellowships and awards; and host the premier annual meeting for medical imaging. SNM members have introduced—and continue to explore—biological and technological innovations in medicine that noninvasively investigate the molecular basis of diseases, benefiting countless generations of patients. SNM is based in Reston, Va.; additional information can be found online at http://www.snm.org.