Radiation Therapist Career Profile

Radiation Therapists (RTs) are professionally trained technicians. This kind of therapy is also commonly known as radiation oncology, or radiotherapy. They treat diseases through radiation. This position is relatively more technical than certain medical professions, requiring special education, but it is highly rewarding like many other medical careers.

People with cancer are treated with radiation to kill the malignant cells in their body. In this way, RTs generally work with cancer patients. Sometimes, RTs have to work within a radiation oncology team and use a linear accelerator which utilizes radiation to treat the patients. These accelerators are machines that pass high-energy x-rays at targeted cells. Such high-energy x-rays will destroy the malignant tumors through highly energized ions.

The first step is to find the malignant tumors and based on the studies completed, the team decides on the dose and timeline of the treatment required for the specific patient. They should ensure the safety of the patients by strictly observing the duration of radiation coinciding with the safety standards.

Essence of Work

RTs usually work with radiologists. They implement the treatment program prescribed by the radiation oncologist to the patients. They also assist the dosimetrist and radiation physicist in planning the treatment.

RTs have the responsibility to interact with patients and the radio therapy or oncology team. So, they should possess highly developed interpersonal skills. RTs should be able to communicate effectively with other members of the oncology team, patients and the members of their families. They have to explain the treatment procedure to the patients and toss some sparkle in their day by convincing them that they can cope with the prescribed treatment.

Daily tasks of an RT include preparing the schedule of treatment to different patients after a consultation with the radio therapy team. They generally have to treat patients every 15 minutes. They have to operate the Computer Tomography (CT) scanning machine for determining the treatment. CT Scanners offer a clear image of the patient's tumor and other internal tissues or organs. General radio treatment for cancer patients is for about five to seven weeks, consisting of 5 days a week. RTs maintain the treatment of the particular patients according to the protocols of the hospital.

They must be able to lift heavy weights since RTS sometimes have to transfer patients onto their assigned bed. The average earnings for radiation therapists is somewhere around $66,170 annually.

Health or Status of this Career

A bachelor's degree in any subject is suitable. RTs who obtain certificates or an associate degree in radiation therapy have the best opportunities available. This employment sector is projected to take off and now there are about 14,290 people in this profession. Some states have made it mandatory for anyone who wants to become a RT to obtain a license before they are eligible to begin working. Be sure to check your state guidelines before you apply.

Career Prospects and Ideas

Initially only cancer patients were given radiation as a therapy. But, due to recent technological advancements in the medical field, additional medical conditions are fostering radiation therapy as treatment. RTs normally work inside hospitals. But there are options for them to open up their own private radiation therapy studios or out-patient care centers.