Radiation TherapistJob Description:
Radiation therapists are healthcare professionals who specialise in the use of radiation therapy to treat cancer and certain other medical conditionsJob Category:
What you will do:
Here are the key responsibilities and activities typically associated with the role of a radiation therapist:
- work with radiation oncologists and medical physicists to create individualised radiation treatment plans for cancer patients
- assess the patient’s physical condition and verify treatment parameters to ensure accuracy
- position the patient on the treatment table in the exact same position as planned during simulation
- operate specialised radiation therapy machines, such as linear accelerators, to administer prescribed doses of radiation to the target area while sparing surrounding healthy tissues as much as possible
- monitor and maintain the quality and accuracy of radiation therapy equipment to ensure that treatments are delivered safely and according to the treatment plan
- educate patients about the treatment process, including the purpose of radiation therapy, potential side effects, and strategies for managing side effects
- maintain detailed records of each patient’s treatment sessions, including the dose delivered, treatment parameters, and any observed side effects
- medical skills
- science skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
As well as:
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (adaptability skills)
- the ability to use your judgement and make decisions (leadership skills)
- thinking and reasoning skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
To become a Radiation Therapist there are no specific qualifications required. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for your educational journey. Here are some subjects that can be valuable for aspiring Radiation Therapists:
- Sciences: Strong grades in biology and physics are highly beneficial because they provide a foundation in the natural sciences, which are relevant to understanding radiation therapy, anatomy, and physics concepts.
- Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for performing calculations related to radiation therapy treatment planning and dosage calculations.
- English: Excellent communication skills, including reading, writing, and spoken communication, are crucial for documenting patient information, explaining procedures, and providing clear instructions to patients.
- Computer Science: Familiarity with computer software and data management can be valuable in radiation therapy treatment planning and record-keeping.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Therapy
Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in radiation therapy or radiation therapy technology. These programs typically last for three to four years and provide comprehensive education and clinical training in radiation therapy techniques and patient care.
During your bachelor’s program, you will complete a clinical internship or externship in a healthcare facility or cancer treatment centre. This hands-on experience allows you to apply your knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.
Licensing and Certification
To practice as a Radiation Therapist, you will need to obtain the necessary state or country-specific licensure or certification. The requirements for licensure and certification vary by location, so be sure to research and meet the specific requirements in your area.
Becoming a Radiation Therapist requires dedication, a strong educational background in the sciences, and a commitment to providing effective and compassionate radiation therapy care to cancer patients.
Working Hours and Environment:
Typically you could work 40 to 44 hours a week, including evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays.
You could work in a public or private hospital.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career Path & Progression:
Experienced radiation therapists may have opportunities for career advancement, such as becoming lead therapists, chief radiation therapists, or department managers.
Some may choose to specialise in certain treatment modalities, such as brachytherapy or proton therapy, by obtaining additional training and experience.