How to Become a Radiation Therapist
Radiation Therapists are a part of an oncologist team that helps with the medical treatment of a cancer patient. An oncologist team can be made up of many other cancer specialists including a radiation oncologist and a radiation physicist. The Radiation Therapist is mainly responsible for implementing the oncology team's treatment plan.
Radiation therapy is one of the available medical procedures to treat cancer. Its administration is done with the help of a machine called Linear Accelerator. Radiation therapy can also be used in conjunction with other treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy or used on its own to help eradicate a patient's cancer.
A specific kind of treatment performed by a Linear Accelerator machine is called the External Beam Therapy in which targeted cancer cells are transmitted with high levels of x-rays. The outcome of this therapy is to prompt the collision of x-rays with human tissue in order to produce extremely energized ions. These produced ions will hopefully cause the cancerous tumor to shrink and eventually disappear.
A person who wants to become a Radiation Therapist will need some inherent skills such as being personable in addition to having a medical background in order to secure a position in this field. These professionals are an integral part of an oncology team and are responsible for following a treatment plan created ahead of time.
Education Requirements to Become a Radiation Therapist
People who want to become a Radiation Therapist need to acquire either a certificate, an Associate's or a Bachelor's degree in Radiation Therapy in order to contend for this type of position. In addition, a candidate who wants to become a Radiation Therapist can opt to complete a Radiography program at an Associate's or Bachelor's level and then seek a 12-month certification program in Radiation Therapy.
Students in 33 states will also need to seek licensure. Visit your specific state's accrediting board for details and protocol to get licensed. Certain states and employers also require certification which can be sought from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART).
Students taking the direct Radiation Therapy route will learn information regarding radiation therapy procedures and the scientific principles surrounding them that will help in understanding their effects. In addition, some programs such as the Bachelor's degree offer information on mathematics, anatomy, physics, writing and physiology.
For a list of accredited Radiation Therapy programs, visit the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists at AART Recognized Educational Programs.
AART also offers information regarding certification protocol and requirements. They administer the certification exam as well. Visit their direct link for instructions and requirements: AART Certification
Radiation Therapist Job Description
Radiation Therapists can work out of hospitals, cancer treatment centers, private practices or clinics; however, the majority of Radiation Therapists work out of hospitals with a smaller percentage of workers practicing out of a physician's office.
Radiation Therapists work with several patients a day and are responsible for the administration of the radiation process needed to eradicate the presence of cancer.
A Radiation Therapist first gets involved by gathering information about the location of a patient's tumor. There are two types of equipment a Radiation Therapist can use in order to do this: a computer tomography scanning machine (CT) or an x-ray machine. The oncology team uses this information in order to create a treatment plan.
The Radiation Therapist is then responsible for following the oncology team's plan. They position the patient into the linear accelerator machine according to predetermine adjustments. Radiation Therapists are then required to enter a different room and operates the machine from there keeping an eye on the patient and recording any information regarding their health. They may also observe how the patient emotionally handles the radiation treatment. Radiation therapy typically takes between 10 to 20 minutes to complete.
Radiation Therapist Salary and Career Path
Radiation Therapist jobs are expected to grow faster than average at a strong rate of 27% through the year 2018. This is largely due to the fact that the elderly population will grow at a rapid pace and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. Another factor in growth is the advancements radiation therapy will experience resulting in safer and more effective forms of treatment. This is expected to cause cancer specialists to prescribe this form of treatment more often.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median wage for Radiation Therapists is approximately $72,910 per year. The salary range for these professionals begins at approximately $47,900 to $104,350 per year. In addition to the high wages, this would be a great career choice for students who are interested in working with cancer patients and handling medical equipment.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics