The Nuclear Medicine
Institute (NMI) at The University of Findlay prides itself on being one of the
oldest, the largest and, arguably, the best educational organization of its
kind in the nation, if not the world.
Started as a hospital-based program in Cleveland in 1966, the institute
moved to Findlay in 1984. More than 1,500 students have successfully completed
its intense, one-year program, and it is estimated that more than 80 percent of
its graduates retain their professional certification. At the heart of the
institute's mission is the preparation of competent technologists for the field
of nuclear medicine technology that are highly skilled, knowledgeable and
concerned technologists who can provide quality patient care in the medical
Two of those graduates
are Shana Schnipke (2009), of Ottawa, Ohio, and Carolyn Garris (2005), of Willoughby
Hills, Ohio. In different ways, they are using the knowledge they acquired and
the skills they developed in real and meaningful work.
UF Degree: Bachelor of Science, Nuclear Medicine, Pre-Medicine (2009)
Hometown: Ottawa, OH
Occupation: Graduate Student, College of Dentistry, The Ohio State University
“I came to The University of Findlay because the nuclear
medicine program is one of, if not, the best programs in the country,” she
said. “And I was not disappointed.”
“But what I found out was that I had a phenomenal foundation
– especially in the sciences,” Schnipke said. “The science department at
Findlay – Professors (Terry) Schwaner, (Jeffrey) Jenson, (Jeffrey) Frye, and
others were just so good. In fact, Dr. Frye’s biochemistry class was harder
than the one here at Ohio State. They helped me develop a broad thinking on the
subjects that have helped me a lot.”
She said she is able to handle the rigors of the OSU
dentistry program – students go from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each weekday –
because of the demands she had to handle as a nuclear medicine student. “The
schedule here at Ohio State is difficult for a lot of students,” she said. “But
the NMI schedule prepared me to handle it.”
Being admitted to the OSU program was helped by the fact that
Schnipke made the most of her undergraduate years – graduating with majors and
minors in nuclear medicine, pre-medicine, chemistry, and biology. She credits
the one-on-one guidance she received, especially from Dr. Richard States, NMI
“He looked over my transcript and told me, ‘you know, if you
take one more course in this, you can get a minor in that subject,’” Schnipke
said. “He did that several times and it really helped out.”
She also found time for extracurricular activities,
particularly with the Newman Club and Colleges Against Cancer, compiling a
record that helped her be crowned as Homecoming Queen in 2008.
“It was really funny on the first day of school here at Ohio
State they had us all in a classroom to welcome the new first-year students,”
she remembered. “The dean announced to the new students that ‘you have nine
students who played Division I sports in college; you have one ice skating
coach, and you have one homecoming queen!’” Everyone laughed but they didn’t
know who it was until I had to return to Findlay for the crowning of the next
She said that receiving that honor was important to her
confidence. “It made be think, ‘well, maybe I am doing some things right,’” she
said. “And that gave me the courage to speak out a little more – something that
is important at a place like Ohio State.”
ipke also points to two other intangibles that
benefitted her. One was the fact that UF is not a ‘party school.’ “The students
are more mature there,” she said. “They have a good time, but it is not like
the stories I hear from other schools where they party first and then study
when they have time. I think that Findlay does a much better job of preparing
you for adulthood.”
“Another thing was the emphasis on service that is ingrained
in freshman as soon as they come to campus: the Service Learning program gets
you out into the community and building community. It is an important lesson to
learn that you are part of a larger society.”
This – and the experiences she had in the NMI program – have
helped her build her sense of community at Ohio State.
“The first time we studied how to do bone scanning students
from other schools didn’t know what it was about,” Schnipke said. “Well, I had done
bone scans as part of my NMI internship, so I was able to show them how to do
She is also volunteering for other activities while she
continues her studies. She passed one major milestone earlier this academic
year when she got to work on a live human being for the first time.
“The first thing we do on a real human is teeth cleaning,”
she said, “and my first patient was my mother! They have family day and it is a
great way to celebrate the progress you are making with some of those who are
And how did she do?
“She did just fine,” said Mrs. Susan Schnipke, her mother.
“I work in a dentist office myself in Columbus Grove, and I am happy and proud
to say it was a very good cleaning and examination – very thorough and professional.”
Shana Schnipke has one word of advice for students thinking
about enrolling at The University of Findlay: “Go!” she said with a laugh.
“You will have the best professors in the world,” she said.
“People who are really devoted to your success. You will be around other
adults. You will really find yourself. The place is so supportive and
UF Degrees: Bachelor of Science, Nuclear Medicine (2005)
Hometown: Ashland, Ohio
Occupation: Nuclear Medicine Technician, Samaritan Hospital, Ashland, OH.
Carolyn Garris is a 2005 graduate who earned a Bachelor of
Science degree with a major in nuclear medicine. A native of Willoughby Hills,
Ohio, Garris works at Samaritan Hospital in Ashland, Ohio. She is a certified
nuclear medicine technologist with the Nuclear Medicine Technology
Certification Board and a registered technologist (nuclear) with the American
Registry of Radiology Technologists.
Her interest in nuclear medicine began from her experiences
as a patient – experiences that continue to guide her to this day.
“I was accident-prone when I was growing up,” Garris
recalled with a laugh, “and that resulted in some broken bones. I was fascinated
with the x-ray machines and I wanted to know more about them. By the time I was
in high school I knew that nuclear medicine was for me.”
She said the academic training at The University of Findlay
prepared her very well for her career and has given her a sound foundation for
future growth and opportunities. But also important for success was the
emphasis the program placed on patient needs and care.
“I do six to 11 procedures each day and each patient is
important,” she said. “You need to have compassion and to understand their
feelings. They come to you not because they want to but because the doctor told
them to. Part of what I do is to try to make them feel comfortable and relaxed
and to help them through a difficult period in their lives.”
Dr. Richard States, the NMI director, says that is an
important component of a technologists .
“One of the things we stress is that the patient is a real
person and usually conscious,” States said. “This is not some test sample. You
have to interact and you have to sympathize with what the patient is going
through. The patient may be in pain and some of the tests can last for hours.
The best technologists communicate, answer questions, and put the patient at
States said he is not surprised by Garris’ success.
“We knew from the start that she would be a good fit for our
program,” he said. “She was great in class. Carolyn sat right in front and was
very energetic and personable. And she was a very good student, academically.”
“I wanted to get the B.S. degree so I would always have that
to fall back on,” she said. “That will be important to have if I want to move
into administration or into pharmaceutical sales. My degree and my experience will
position me very well.”
She is also an enthusiastic advocate for The University of
Findlay when talking with high school students about their college plans.
“I always recommend Findlay,” she said. “My experiences were
great and I learned everything I needed to know. The professors who teach you
really know their stuff and take a personal interest in you. It was just