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Nuclear Medicine Pairs High Tech Health Care with High Quality Patient Care

For Elochukwu Osoego, a 2013 graduate of SHP’s nuclear medicine program, the best way to describe his career as a nuclear medicine technologist is, “there’s never a dull moment!” Nuclear medicine is a specialty of health care that uses radiopharmaceuticals to help diagnose and treat diseases.
Osoego and fellow alum Patrick Griggs (BHS-NM ’13) both now work at MU Health Care. Their jobs involve injecting patients with radiopharmaceuticals that can be traced with specialized cameras and computers to help physicians get a closer look at the molecular structure of a patient.
Osoego described the field of nuclear medicine as very futuristic and constantly evolving, from the discovery of new isotopes to understanding new ways of looking at the body.  Brent McHugh, a nuclear pharmacist at Mid America Isotopes and nuclear medicine instructor agrees, but says that while the study of nuclear medicine is highly scientific, students and technologists still have to be focused on patient care.
“When people come in and they look very nervous, we need to remember what we’re doing is about the patient,” Osoego said. McHugh added, “People kind of freak out. We need to be able to calmly talk to patients to get the best outcome.”
Both Osoego and Griggs say the SHP Nuclear Medicine program did a great job of preparing them for both aspects of their jobs. In addition to coursework, students complete fieldwork in a variety of settings, including rotations at Mid-America Isotopes. For four weeks, students get hands-on experience in the preparation and compounding of the radiopharmaceuticals used in the hospitals. “When students are here, they learn the pharmacy aspect of nuclear medicine that they don’t usually get in the hospital,” McHugh said.
Mid America Isotopes also donates materials every year to the program so that students have access to pharmaceuticals and materials that otherwise might not be available in the coursework portion of their studies. Since 2001, the company has given more than $300,000 in support of the program and its students.
Osoego’s advice to students considering a career in nuclear medicine is to remember that the science and technology are cool, but it’s still about serving patients. “Make sure this is what you want: that you want to help people.”