A radiation therapist works in the medical field to administer radiation therapy to patients, quite often those suffering from cancer. The therapist must use appropriate safety measures and protective equipment to comply with government regulations and to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff. The person must be able to properly read a medical chart to ensure the patient receives the dosage set by the patient's doctor; the radiation therapist must also be able to set the controls to operate and adjust the radiation equipment to regulate dosage as necessary. A radiation therapist must be able to enter data into a computer, and enter notes into a medical chart to document treatment and the patient's progress.
A radiation therapist must also work with the patient to check for potential side effects such as skin irritation, nausea, and hair loss. Any and all side effects should be mentioned to the patient's doctor to determine if the radiation dosage should be adjusted or if alternate therapies should be used.
A career in radiation therapy requires at least an associate's degree, with a bachelor's degree typically preferred. One must also complete a training program that includes a certification program, as well as the study of human anatomy and physiology, science, and math. Thirty-two states require a license to practice, and most employers require certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, which can be obtained by passing the association's certification test.
Radiation Therapist Tasks
- Position patient and administer prescribed doses of radiation using radiation therapy equipment.
- Use radiation safety measures and protection devices to comply with government regulations and to ensure safety of patients and staff.
- Check radiation therapy equipment to ensure proper operation.
- Enter data into computer and set controls to operate and adjust equipment and regulate dosage.
- Check for side effects such as skin irritation, nausea and hair loss to assess reaction to treatment.