Navigating COVID-19 Challenges in the NMT Educational Community

April 20, 2020

During this time of uncertainty, nuclear medicine technologist students throughout the country are wondering how COVID-19 will affect their training and their future career path. Wanting to provide program directors with the most up-to-date information to pass along to their students, SNMMI-TS coordinated with the ARRT, the NMTCB, and the JRCNMT to host a webinar on navigating through challenges related to COVID-19.  

“This is truly a unique time in the education community,” moderator Jennifer L. Prekeges, MS, CNMT, FSNMMI-TS, chairwoman of the SNMMI-TS Educator’s Committee, stated in her introduction. “We applaud your efforts to keep your students focused, and be reassured that we will get through all of this together.” In this spirit, SNMMI-TS was pleased that three different executive directors volunteered to serve as panelists for this webinar: Jerry Reid, PhD (ARRT Executive Director), Katie Neal, BS, MS (NMTCB Executive Director), and Jan Winn, MEd, RT(N), CNMT (JRCNMT Executive Director). Each panelist was given time to present critical information, specific to their organization, that would assist programs during the COVID-19 crisis. Panelists then participated in an engaging question-and-answer session at the end of the webinar.

Jerry Reid, PhD, and Katie Neal, BS, MS, each provided the latest updates on their specific exams and any modifications that had been established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reid stressed that for ARRT, their main goal is to is to protect and preserve the long-term integrity of the RT(N)(ARRT) credential, ensuring “a credential earned today isn’t any different than one earned in more normal times.” To achieve this, the ARRT is in the process of considering temporary modifications to the requirements, such as 90-day deadline extensions, while maintaining current standards. For NMTCB, Neal confirmed that the requirements to sit for NMTCB’s exams, including the CNMT exam, have not been augmented in order to maintain the integrity and validity of the examinations and the process. However, with testing centers closed, NMTCB staff is working to reschedule any canceled exam appointments. Reid and Neal each demonstrated how social distancing guidelines will be considered once testing centers are reopened, such as reduced capacity options for future dates. Click here for a summary document on key credentialing takeaways from this webinar.

JRCNMT Executive Director Jan Winn, MEd, RT(N), CNMT, closed the webinar addressing the challenges of shifting to online education for didactic courses and clinical education. She stressed the need for flexibility while maintaining high-quality education standards, as their higher education goal is to try to minimize graduation delays for students. With the length of impact unknown, her repeated advice was to focus on competencies, not hours. Program directors are encouraged to reach out to JRCNMT directly to discuss creative and innovative ways to provide quality training that maintains programmatic integrity. Jan Winn’s closing statement said it best: “I just want to thank and congratulate all the program directors, clinical coordinators, and instructors for the hard work that you’ve done in a very short period of time to keep your programs going and address the needs of your students.” SNMMI couldn’t agree more!

SNMMI-TS is striving to provide programs the necessary information to help adjust training practices for nuclear medicine technologist students during this unprecedented time. These resources will be available in the SNMMI COVID-19 Resource Center, including an on-demand recording of this webinar already posted.