Radiation therapists do interesting and important work. Most often they work with people who are battling cancer by administering the radiation treatment that they require. So clearly this is a very important and relevant job. They work primarily with machines. The machines that radiation therapists use to administer the treatment to patients are called linear accelerators. How the machines work is with high energy x rays. These rays get directed at specific cancer cells in the patient’s body. The x rays either shrink these cells or it removes the cells completely. It sounds interesting. It sounds complicated. So you may be wondering what specifically this job entails.
Well, doing the job of a radiation therapist will include various elements. For a start, the radiation therapist will have to explain the treatment and the treatment plan to the patient. As you can imagine, someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is going to be very nervous and anxious about the treatment they will be receiving. So you are dealing with a patient who requires a lot of sensitivity and care. Naturally, the therapist will also have to be able to answer any questions or concerns which the patient may have about the treatment being administered. It is also essential that the radiation therapist follow safety procedures while working with the radiation therapy. This safety element is twofold. On the one hand the therapist must protect the patient, but on the other hand, the therapist must also protect themselves. Why protection? Because when you are dealing with this kind of treatment you are dealing with a substance dangerous to human cells. The main element they have to be protected from is overexposure to radiation. Another responsibility radiation therapists have is related to their expensive machinery. Radiation therapists work with cancer killing machines and they have the responsibility to ensure that the machines are in proper working condition and that the machines are safe. The responsibilities mentioned thusfar are numerous, but the radiation therapist’s responsibilities are not limited to this. The radiation therapist also has to x-ray the patient to ascertain precisely where the treatment is required for the patient in question. It is also the responsibility of the radiation therapist to check the computer programs being used. They have to do this to ensure that the patient is receiving the correct dose of radiation to the correct area of the patient’s body. Then they also have to operate the radiation machinery which is used to treat the patient with radiation therapy. They have to monitor the patient’s reaction to the treatment. They have to ensure that there are no unusual reactions to the therapy. It is essential that they keep detailed records of the treatment which the patient undergoes. From all of the above it is absolutely clear that the radiation therapist has a huge responsibility on their shoulders. This is especially true if they are dealing with people who are suffering from cancer. Their job quite literally involves a life and death situation.
How Much Does A Radiation Therapist Earn?
For a job this important the salary should surely be very high. So now you are probably wondering – what would a radiation therapy salary be? Statistics from the year 2012 show that radiation therapists were earning around ($77 000) seventy seven thousand American dollars per annum. This is quite a high salary. This statistic reflects what is referred to as the median wage. What is a median wage? A median wage refers to the amount which is the amount which half of those types of employees earned more than and also the amount which half of those type of employees earned less than. So in truth, it is a perfect average. To give a clearer indication of what radiation therapists earn as a living, let’s look at a few more statistics. It is reported that the lowest earning ten percent of radiation therapists earn in the region of just slightly over ($50 000) fifty thousand American dollars, while the top earning ten percent of radiation therapists earned in the region of ($113 000) one hundred and thirteen thousand American dollars. The lowest of these figures is nothing to be sniffed at, while the highest is certainly very impressive.
To earn this amount of a salary, it is definitely a full time occupation. Radiation therapists have to plan their treatment in advance. This means that they work according to a schedule. Most radiation therapists will find employment in hospitals. The other option for them is that they can work for physicians. It is also possible for them to work with outpatients at outpatient centres. So clearly, they are not limited in where they can find work.
Their work can be physically demanding. They are generally going to be on their feet all day long. If they are working with patients who are disabled then they may even have to turn or move those patients themselves. What is interesting about this job is that they are working with dangerous radioactive material. For this reason they usually stand in a different room from their patient while the treatment is being administered.
Radiation therapy is an interesting and multifaceted job. They do not work in isolation. On the contrary. They work with many different people. Some of the other specialists that radiation therapists work with are physicians who specialize in this area. They also work with nurses. This includes oncology nurses as well as registered nurses. They also work with radiation physicists.
How popular is the job of radiation therapist? Recently statistics revealed that radiation therapists occupied just over 19 000 (nineteen thousand jobs) in the United States of America in the year 2012.
Many people are increasingly becoming interested in the job of radiation therapy. It is expected that the amount of people who qualify to do this type of work is steadily growing. In the year 2013 a spike of 24% was projected. It must be borne in mind that it is a small occupation. So this big percentage of growth only results in a few extra jobs. Because cancer is a growing illness, certainly being a radiation therapist is a job which is high in demand and the demand for it is constantly growing.
How To Become A Radiation Therapist?
In order to become a radiation therapist you will most likely have to have either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Specifically, you will need to get a degree in radiation therapy. If you are a radiation therapist then you will have to get licenced. If you are going to work in the United States of America then the licencing requirements will vary from one State to another. It is possible for you to qualify as a radiation therapist by simply completing a one year certificate program. This is however not advisable, as employers prefer someone who has the above mentioned bachelor’s degree or associate degree in radiation therapy. So while you could get a certificate to qualify, you may then have difficulty finding a job. So it is in your best interest to get a more acceptable qualification.
Do you attend radiation therapist schools to get your qualification? You can attend radiation therapy programs. These programs will include courses in radiation therapy and the procedures which must be followed during radiation therapy. You will also have to study the scientific theories which underlie these procedures. This therefore means that these types of courses will include subjects such as physiology and human anatomy. It also includes subjects such as mathematics, algebra, and even research methodology. Clearly it can be seen that the area of study is multifaceted and very broad. It is a complicated and difficult subject and the area of study is multi dimensional.
In working as a radiation therapist the radiation therapist has to be exact in his work. For a start, he has to follow safe and exacting procedures. He is required to take exact measurements and he then has to input this into the computer. This is done to ensure that the patient gets the correct amount of radiation therapy. If he does his job incorrectly the patient will be overexposed to radiation treatment and the results could be fatal. So clearly this is not a job to be taken lightly. It can literally be a matter of life and death. A good radiation therapist will check and double check his work, as he has to be absolutely precise in how he does his job.
There are many important qualities that a radiation therapist is expected to have. Apart from the points mentioned above, it is also required of a radiation therapist to have a very good relationship with his patients. Clearly, you are dealing with patients who are suffering from cancer. Whoever they are, and whatever walk of life they come from, they are going through a very stressful and emotionally traumatic time in their life. They will require a lot of compassion and understanding. A radiation therapist has to be someone who can communicate with people going through this difficult time.
It is also advisable for a radiation therapist to be physically fit and to have a bit of stamina. The nature of the job is such that they have to stand on their feet for long periods of time. This means that they can’t be weak or frail or tire easily. They are also sometimes required to lift or move patients, this is especially true if they are dealing with patients who are physically disabled or so on.
Radiation therapists are also required to have a good amount of technical and computer skills. The equipment that they use to administer treatment is very technical and they have to understand it and know how it works. They need to be able to work with all kinds of complicated technological devices.
If you are an experienced radiation therapist then there is lots of room for advancement in the career path for you. You could for example advance to manage a radiation therapy program that is hosted by a hospital. These kinds of programs can be found either in hospitals or in any other healthcare facilities. It is also possible for a radiation therapist to become a manager. Managers still continue to treat patients, but they also exercise managerial duties. There are lots of other areas of advancement as well. It is possible for radiation therapists for example to become teachers, they could create a career path in technical sales, or they could quite possibly go into research. It is really up to the individual and your personality will determine what career path will suit you best. It is a further possibility that with a little bit of extra training, the radiation therapist can become a dosimetrists. This is the person who calculates the dosage of radiation that the cancer patient must receive to fight their cancer. It almost seems that going into radiation therapy opens up unlimited career opportunities.
If you think you are interested in studying radiation therapy but you are just not entirely convinced that it is the right path for you, you have to know that there are other similar occupations that you may also want to look at. You could for example become a dental hygienist. To do this you will also need an associate’s degree. In this occupation you can expect to earn about $70 000 (seventy thousand dollars) per annum.
You could also look at becoming a nuclear medicine technologist. You will also need an associate’s degree and you can look at earning $70 000 (seventy thousand dollars) per annum.
Statistics show however that as people age, their risk of getting cancer increases too. This means that an aging population increases the number of cancer sufferers and that in turn increases the need for radiation therapists. There are currently not that many people working in this field and many more radiation therapists are needed. For this reason, it is a good choice of employment.