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Job Description

What the Radiation Therapist Does:

  • Administer radiation therapy as prescribed by the physician.
  • Display professional conduct essential to the well being of the radiation oncology patient.
  • Demonstrate effective written communication skills; Maintain accurate and detailed treatment chart documentation.
  • Demonstrate effective verbal communication skills in the clinical setting.
  • Observe the clinical progress of the radiation oncology patient, use clinical decision making skills to recognize and report any signs of complications.
  • Utilize treatment accessories to accurately reproduce the radiation treatment.
  • Adhere to radiation safety procedure protocol.
  • Safely and effectively operate a variety of computerized simulation and treatment machines.
  • Perform machine safety checks, know safe limits of equipment operations, and report abnormalities or inconsistencies to the proper authority.
  • Construct immobilization devices and employ custom blocking techniques that are conducive to conformal radiation therapy.
  • Utilize sophisticated imaging equipment and treatment planning systems for precise tumor localization.
  • Work closely with the radiation Oncologist and the therapy team in the preparation of a treatment plan that is customized to the patient’s needs.
  • Adhere to the Radiation Therapist Code of Ethics.

Where the Radiation Therapist works:

  • Simulation – The initial step in developing an effective treatment plan takes place on the simulator. The simulator is used to define and map out the area to be treated. Though this machine emulates the workings of the treatment machine, it does not have the capability to deliver a radiation therapy treatment. The purpose of the simulator is to take regular X-rays with the patient in the treatment position to verify the exact location of the disease and define the treatment parameters. Immobilization devices are constructed and used to assure accuracy and reproducibility during treatment. Measurements of the patient’s body are recorded and used to aid treatment planning.
  • Treatment Planning and Dosimetry – The information that is acquired in the simulation is transferred to treatment planning where the patient is not present. Although the radiation therapist may be involved in some phases of treatment planning, the majority of the work is done by a medical dosimetrist. The dosimetrist specializes in performing complex mathematical calculations and multiple correlations to find the best combination of beam angles, field size, beam energy and distance. Computers are used to design a specialized treatment plan for each individual.
  • Treatment Delivery – When the treatment plan is complete, the patient is scheduled to start their customized course of treatment. Radiation treatments are usually scheduled five days a week, Monday to Friday, for two to eight weeks. Although the treatment machine may be delivering radiation for only a few minutes, each treatment may take from ten to twenty minutes from the time that the patient walks into the treatment room until they leave.

Radiation Therapy Code of Ethics

The Radiation Therapist Code of Ethics as published by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists states:
  • The radiation therapist advances the principal objective of the profession to provide services to humanity with full respect for the dignity of mankind.
  • The radiation therapist delivers patient care and service unrestricted by concerns of personal attributes or the nature of the disease or illness, and without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion or socioeconomic status.
  • The radiation therapist assesses situations; exercises care, discretion and judgment; assumes responsibility for professional decisions and acts in the best interest of the patient.
  • The radiation therapist adheres to the tenets and domains of the scope of practice for radiation therapists.
  • The radiation therapist actively engages in lifelong learning to maintain, improve and enhance professional competence and knowledge.

Related Career Titles:

  • Simulation Therapist
  • Chief Therapist / Manager
  • Medical Dosimetrist
  • Medical Physicist
  • Educator / Instructor
  • Oncology Administrator
  • Application and Sales Specialist

Top Areas of Employment:

  • Hospitals
  • Cancer Treatment Centers
  • State and National Accreditation Agencies
  • Research Institutions
  • Educational Institutions
  • Equipment Vendors

Necessary Attributes:

  • Technical aptitude
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Standing and walking for long periods of time
  • Work as a team member
  • Manual dexterity
  • Patient care and education
  • Accuracy in record keeping
  • Ergonomics