Student in science goggles looks for chemical bottle in science closet.

Biology Pre-nuclear Medicine Technology Major

Experience extensive courses in nuclear medicine, a medical specialty that uses radioactive materials, called radiopharmaceuticals, for diagnosis, therapy, and medical research.

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is also affiliated with the Nuclear Medicine Technology Program at the Mayo School of Health Sciences in Rochester, Minn.

Degree Options

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology Pre-nuclear Medicine Technology—Includes completion of all Saint Mary’s pre-nuclear medicine technology program courses.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Biology Nuclear Medicine Technology—Includes completion of all Saint Mary’s pre-nuclear medicine technology program courses and successful completion of the Nuclear Medicine Technology Training Program at NorthShore University Health System or Mayo.

Career Options

Students who graduate from the biology pre-nuclear medicine technology program at Saint Mary's are prepared for a professional position as a nuclear medicine technologist. 

High School Preparation

High school coursework that will support a student in his or her pursuit of a degree from the pre-nuclear medicine technology program includes experience in Biology, Chemistry, and Physiology and Anatomy.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who graduate with a degree from Saint Mary's pre-nuclear medicine technology program oftentimes double major or minor in chemistry or physics with a life science emphasis.

Program Outcomes

Students in Saint Mary's pre-nuclear medicine technology program are very successful. The university has a long history of achieving a graduation rate for students completing the internship at NorthShore University HealthSystem of 100 percent.

Additionally, all of the students who have taken the national certification exam administered by the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) have passed the exam. Of these, 43 percent passed with Distinction or Highest Distinction.

Degree Requirements

A. All of the following:

B110 Botany and Zoology I (3 cr.)

Emphasis is placed upon photosynthesis and respiration,and physiological processes including nutrition, gas exchange, transportation and regulation of body fluids. It is an investigation of the structure and function of both plants and animals and intended as an introductory overview.

B111 Botany and Zoology I Laboratory (1 cr.)

These laboratory studies complement the concepts presented in B110. Investigations including physiological and molecular relationships and interactions are the basis for the course.

B120 Botany and Zoology II (3 cr.)

Emphasis is placed on plant and animal phyla, organs and organ systems of both plants and animals.

B121 Botany and Zoology II Laboratory (1 cr.)

Laboratory studies complementing B120 include plant and animal hormones and reproduction, bacterial techniques, and phylogenetic investigations.

C131 General Chemistry I (3 cr.)

This course covers the fundamental principles upon which the study of chemistry is based. Stoichiometry, atomic structure, molecular structure, chemical bonding, behavior of gases, kinetic molecular theory, properties of solutions, chemical reactivity and thermochemistry are included.

C133 General Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

C142 General Chemistry II (3 cr.)

This course includes the study of the chemistry of molecular forces, redox reactions, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium theory, electrochemistry, chemical dynamics, organic chemistry, phase behavior and solution chemistry.

C144 General Chemistry II Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory is an inquiry-based approach to understanding the process of doing chemistry. Each week, as a team member with a specific role working for a consulting company, the student receives a letter from a "chemical client" requesting the solution to a chemical problem. It is the responsibility of the team to design a solution, collect data, and report the results to the client in report form.

C321 Organic Chemistry I (3 cr.)

Organized by chemical functional groups and reaction mechanisms, this course presents both classical and modern theories of organic chemistry while rigorously exploring chemical structure reactivity relationships. The fundamentals of nomenclature, physical properties, chemical structure, stereochemistry, organic-reactions, mechanisms, synthesis, purification, and compound characterization are emphasized. Biological, medical, and familiar real-world examples are discussed in the context of organic chemistry.

C323 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory (1 cr.)

This laboratory complements the lecture segment of the course by demonstrating and utilizing the concepts learned in the classroom to acquire, isolate, and characterize desired organic reaction products. In this laboratory, students become familiar with the equipment, glassware, techniques, and expertise required to implement the chemistry proposed on paper, to optimize it, and to communicate it to the chemical community. A practical context for the developed chemical intuition is provided.

B. Either M148 and M149 or M151:

M148 Calculus I with Precalculus (part 1) (4 cr.)

This course, followed by M149, provides a two-semester sequence that covers the material of M151 along with built-in coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M148 include: solving equations, functions, classes of functions (polynomial, rational, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic), right triangle trigonometry, angle measure, limits and continuity, derivatives, rules for derivatives. Credit is not granted for this course and M151 or courses equivalent to college algebra and college trigonometry.

M149 Calculus I with Precalculus (part 2) (4 cr.)

This course completes the two-semester sequence that begins with M148, and together with M148 provides a two-semester sequence that covers the material of M151 along with built-in coverage of precalculus topics. Topics in M149 include: trigonometric and inverse trigonometric functions, rules for derivatives, applications of derivatives, and definite and indefinite integrals. Credit is not granted for this course and M151.

M151 Calculus I (4 cr.)

This course provides an introduction to the differential and integral calculus. Topics include: the concepts of function, limit, continuity, derivative, definite and indefinite integrals, and an introduction to transcendental functions. Credit is not granted for this course and M148 and M149.

C. All of the following:

B305 Human Anatomy with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course explores the design and structure of the human body. Lectures present cellular and histological features of the body systems.

B313 Physiology with Laboratory (4 cr.)

This course explores the functions of the body systems of humans. The interrelationships of organ systems processes to maintain homeostasis are emphasized. Laboratory sessions provide experiences with procedures and instrumentation to gather data that highlight the function of the body systems. Course topics are particularly relevant to the health sciences.

B392 Biostatistics (3 cr.)

This course introduces basic and fundamental statistics with emphasis on the more sophisticated tests and analyses common to biologists and other researchers. Substantial attention is given to analysis of variance procedures and experimental design. Credit is not granted for this course and any of the following: BU215, ST132, or ST232.

B450 Radiation Biology (3 cr.)

The effects of radiation, particularly ionizing radiation, on molecules, cells, tissues, and the whole organism are studied. A brief background of the nature, sources and absorption of radioactive energy is presented. Some emphasis is also placed on the understanding and use of modern instrumentation and techniques available for biological research and fluorescence analysis.

P201 Introductory Physics I (3 cr.)

This course is the first half of a two-semester introductory, calculus-based, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of mechanics, oscillations, and fluid mechanics.

P202 Introductory Physics I Laboratory (1 cr.)

One three-hour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.

P211 Introductory Physics II (3 cr.)

This course is the second half of a two-semester introductory, calculus-based, physics course for all students planning to enter one of the scientific professions. It covers the fundamental principles of waves, physical and geometrical optics, and electricity and magnetism.

P212 Introductory Physics II Laboratory (1 cr.)

One three-hour laboratory is held each week covering topics studied in the lectures.

P250 Introduction to Radiation Physics (3 cr.)

The course includes the study of radioactive decay (the interactions of ionizing radiation with matter), characteristics of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, nuclear instrumentation, dose calculations and dosimetry, production and use of x-rays, nuclear statistics, and radiation safety.

D. One of the following:

B311 Cell Biology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course is a study of the cell at the ultrastructural, biochemical, and physiological levels. Special consideration is given to respiration, photosynthesis, secretion, cytoskeleton, cell cycle, cell growth, movement, membranes, and other organelles.

B434 Microbiology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course deals with the morphology, physiology and biochemistry of a variety of microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae. Emphasis is placed on the control of microbial growth, the characteristics of these organisms and their relationship to disease.

B435 Immunology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

Topics covered in this course include the nature of the immune system and the immunological response including the roles of lymphocytes, cytokines, antibodies and complement. Some emphasis is placed on the malfunction and diseases of the immune system.

E. One of the following:

PH305 Health Care Ethics (3 cr.)

This course provides a survey of some of the specific issues in health care ethics that are faced today by patients, providers, insurance companies and other constituencies in the health care arena. Such issues include: access — how are limited resources to be allocated? Informed consent – what information must patients possess in order to make reasonable and informed decisions about their health care? What compensatory obligations do providers have in the realm of informed consent? Funding — should the quality of health care vary by the means of the payer? Death — what is death? Also, should a patient have the right to choose the time and means of his or her death? Procedures and technologies — are all possible procedures and technical interventions morally defensible?

PH343 Contemporary Ethical Issues (3 cr.)

The course examines critically the foundations of ethical or moral judgments on vital issues such as abortion, birth control, capital punishment, civil disobedience, divorce, drug-use, ecology, euthanasia, homosexuality, marriage, pre-marital sex, suicide, segregation, stealing, truth: acquiring-revealing concealing, technology, war, and work.

PH346 Ethical Issues in the Sciences (3 cr.)

This course provides non-science as well as science majors the opportunity to examine key issues in the sciences in the light of major ethical theories. Among the issues to be examined are: abuses and uses of nuclear energy, behavior control and psychosurgery, chemical wastes and the environment, computerized files of personal information, computerization and depersonalization, experimentation with human subjects and animals, genetic engineering and screening, reproductive techniques, organ transplants, physician-patient relationships, and euthanasia.

F. Section F or G

  • Clinical Training (minimum 32 semester credits)

G. Section F or G

All of the following (either B301 or B310):

B301 Ecology with Laboratory (4 cr.)

A study of the theoretical and practical ecological concepts pertaining to species, populations, communities and ecosystems; stress is placed on the concepts of energy flow, nutrient cycles, limiting factors, population dynamics and succession.

B310 Genetics with Laboratory (4 cr.)

The principles underlying hereditary variation in living organisms are the focus of this course. These topics are centered about the transmission of hereditary traits, cytogenetics, basic gene concepts, introductory molecular biology, population genetics, and the genetic basis of evolution.

B492 Experimental Planning (1 cr.)

The purpose of this course is to design a research project. The necessary reconnaissance, review of the literature, and other preparations are included. Some emphasis is also given to thesis writing and presentations.

B493 Biology Research and Thesis (2 cr.)

The course consists of an independent investigation of a field or laboratory problem of the student's choice in a specific area of biology. A written report of the research project in the form of a thesis is required; an oral presentation may be required, at the discretion of the research advisor. This course is a graduation requirement for biology majors.

Recommended elective courses

An asterisk (*) indicates courses that may be especially helpful:

B306 Medical Terminology (2 cr.)

This course is an organ systems approach to learning and understanding medical terms. A word building programmed learning format is utilized to understand Latin and Greek prefixes and root words from which our English medical words originate. Common medical abbreviations and case studies are also incorporated into the course.

B311 Cell Biology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

This course is a study of the cell at the ultrastructural, biochemical, and physiological levels. Special consideration is given to respiration, photosynthesis, secretion, cytoskeleton, cell cycle, cell growth, movement, membranes, and other organelles.

B409 Biochemistry with Laboratory (4 cr.)

The principal concepts of biochemistry are the focus of this course. The major themes include the relationship between the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their biological function and the chemistry and metabolism of biologically important macromolecules including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids.

B412 Molecular Biology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

An analysis of the regulation of cellular metabolism at the molecular level is the core of this study. The major themes include the biochemistry of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis and the regulation of gene expression in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

B435 Immunology with Laboratory (3 cr.)

Topics covered in this course include the nature of the immune system and the immunological response including the roles of lymphocytes, cytokines, antibodies and complement. Some emphasis is placed on the malfunction and diseases of the immune system.

C322 Organic Chemistry II with Laboratory (4 cr.)

A continuation of C321/C323, this course builds upon the fundamentals presented in C321/C323. It is organized by functional groups and reaction mechanisms, while integrating this knowledge into chemical synthesis. Additional topics include aromaticity, NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, carbonyl chemistry, synthetic strategy, and advanced C–C bond forming reactions.

Accreditation and Selection Into the Program

Saint Mary’s has a fully accredited unified program in nuclear medicine technology in conjunction with NorthShore University HealthSystem, with clinical facilities at Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Ill., Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill., and Highland Park Hospital in Highland Park, Ill.

This accreditation is granted by the Joint Review Committee on Educational Programs in Nuclear Medicine Technology, 2000 W. Danforth Rd., Ste 130 #203, Edmond, OK 73003.

A maximum of eight students each year are selected to enter this program. Applicants to Saint Mary’s nuclear medicine technology program are not selected based on GPA alone, but their cumulative and major grade point averages must be at least 2.500. 

Prior to a clinical year of interning, the student must complete three years of coursework (90 credits) at Saint Mary’s, including the general education requirements. Of these 90 credits, 30 credits must be upper-division credits. Acceptance to the clinical program at NorthShore University HealthSystem or Mayo is contingent upon the student’s academic achievement. Upon successful completion of the clinical program, the student receives a certificate in nuclear medicine technology and is eligible to take the certification exam of the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART).

Students may also choose to fulfill all biology major degree requirements prior to entering the clinical training.