Nuclear Medicine Student Success​​

Nuclear Medicine Google Hangout in the Iso lab. AKA: “the hot lab”. This Hangout Panel includes: Dr. Ryan J. Smith, CNMT, Mackenzie Crowe, Megan Craven and Khairat Kadri.

More than 1,500 students have successfully completed NMI'S intense one-year program, and it is estimated that more than 80 percent of NMI graduates retain their professional certification. 

At the heart of the Institute's mission is the preparation of nuclear medicine technologists who are highly skilled, knowledgeable, conscientious and competent in providing high-quality patient care in the medical community.

Two such 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.

Shana Schnipke

  • 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, Chair of the Diagnostic Services Department. ​“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.”

Shana 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 queen!”

Shana said 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.”

“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 it.”

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.

Schnipke “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 helping you.”


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, 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 phenomenal.”

Carolyn Garris

  • UF Degrees: Bachelor of Science, Nuclear Medicine (2005)

  • Hometown: Ashland, Ohio

  • Occupation: Nuclear Medicine Technician, Samaritan Hospital, Ashland, OH.

Carolyn Garris 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 Samaritin 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. 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, said that this is an important component of a technologist .

“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 ease.”

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 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 great!”​