Molloy College's Marc Fischer on SNMMI 2016 and the Optimistic Future for Nuclear Medicine Industry

I had the opportunity to attend the SNMMI 2016 Annual Meeting held June 11-15 in San Diego, and was overwhelmed and excited to see the many recent developments in our field. There were so many learning opportunities both in the lecture and exhibit halls — I was sorry that I couldn’t experience them all. 

The Buzz

The Henry N. Wagner, Jr., MD Highlights Symposium opening plenary lecture was powerfully delivered by Joanna Fowler, PhD from Brookhaven National Laboratory on the 40th Anniversary of the development of the use of FDG for Human Studies. Joanna clearly demonstrated the strong impact FDG has had in our Nuclear Medicine world. FDG was a game changer for our field. While attending the rest of the meeting, I was happy to learn that there are many more to come.

These include a number of radiopharmaceuticals that have recently been approved by the FDA, which will ultimately lead to a new paradigm and the second boom in PET imaging, including, but not limited, to F-18 fluciclovine (Axumin) imaging for men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence and Ga 68 Dotatate (NETSPOT), a somatostatin receptor for targeting and detection of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) (contact your local nuclear pharmacy for availability in your area). There are a number of brain-imaging agents approved by the FDA that can measure amyloid plaque, Tau and neuro-degeneration. Many other radiopharmaceuticals are being used effectively overseas and promise to make additional significant changes in both the diagnostic and therapeutic arenas. 

Additionally, the theranostics field is growing and nuclear scientists figured out a way to align the power of radiopharmaceuticals with a personalized medicine treatment approach to specifically treat diseases without affecting normal tissues. For example, Lu-177 Dotatate can effectively treat patients with NETs and give the patient better outcomes, without the chemo toxicity of other drug therapies. 

The professional standards in our field are also growing. The Joint Commission (TJC) recently revised their standards that require CT Technologists to be certified by the ARRT or NMTCB by January of 2018. Molloy College had anticipated this change and offers a bachelor’s degree leading to graduates being able to sit for both the Nuclear Medicine and CT boards upon completion. Beginning in 2017, new standards are being placed on candidates who are eligible to sit for the NMTCB Certification Exam. 

Candidates must be educated by an accredited program under the auspices of the Joint Review Committee for Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine. Other professions have led the way for higher education. On a side note, I would have loved the SNMMI to follow through on their initial proposal In December of 2005 to raise the minimum educational level for entry-level NMTs to a bachelor's degree. However, this proposal has failed to gain any traction. With all of the advancements in our field, perhaps the time is right to reconsider this endeavor.

Finally, as a follow-up to my guest post last year, the future of nuclear medicine continues to be bright. The Outstanding Graduate Award allows the outstanding graduates of Molloy College’s NMT program are able to carry the torch into the future to provide high quality nuclear medicine to our patient population. The 2016 Outstanding Graduate Award recipients are Anna Babula and Megan Emanuelo (during the June 7 award ceremony, with me and Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division Director of Sales Tony Maffei).

To fully grasp the importance of such industry support and of its programs, I’ll leave you with the below comments from recent graduates who have entered this wonderful profession.

“My two years in the Nuclear Medicine program at Molloy College were far more than a challenge — they required all of my dedication and heart, as well as managing my time well enough to study, work and have a glimpse of a social life. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It wasn't until the Outstanding Graduate Awards Ceremony, where I received more than one award, that I finally realized and could appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that I put into myself and my future. Before graduation I was offered a full-time position at Mercy Medical Center as a nuclear medicine technologist.”  — Monica Lynch, recipient of Molloy College’s 2015 Outstanding Graduate Award 

“I was so grateful to be recognized for my hard work and dedication in the field of nuclear medicine while a student at Molloy College. As a recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Award, I gained extra confidence and excitement about my future and headed straight for both boards exams shortly after graduation. Now, as a professional CNMT and ARRT(N), I’m able to make positive impact on a daily basis and, one day, I hope I’m able to pass on knowledge and experiences learned along the way to inspire and provide support to those working towards a future in nuclear medicine.” — Victoria Mihlstin, recipient of Molloy College’s 2014 Outstanding Graduate Award  

— Currently (and for the past 23 years) Mr. Marc Fischer serves as the program director/assistant professor of Molloy College’s Nuclear Medicine Technology Program.