Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to treat cancer cells. For those who want to enter this field, a radiation therapy program will do the trick. This education track teaches the student to provide accurate treatment, develop problem solving skills, perform effective communications, produce ethical behavior, and become leaders in the field. A typical program will last from one to two years. The programs usually prepare the student to take the exam from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and to become licensed in their home state. Choosing an accredited program is essential due to licensing and certification requirements.
Admissions criteria will vary from program to program. Most programs require a student to hold at least an associate degree. They must have completed certain college courses including composition, college level math, chemistry, biology, physics, nutrition, and human development. The student needs to have some physical strength, be capable of clear communications, and work in a speedy manner. Students will also complete official applications and provide references.
Students will take classes in radiation therapy, radiation's effects on the body, and how to handle patients and their medical information.
Upon graduation, a radiation therapist will find work in hospitals or cancer treatment centers. They work with oncologists and patients in treating various forms of cancer. They may also be called upon to treat other diseases where radiation is known to help. Job growth for radiation therapists will be higher than average over the next ten years.
The median salary for radiation therapists in 2010 was just under $75,000 per year. The range of salaries went from $51,000 to $110,000. Salary is dependent on location, employer, and experience level. Most radiation therapists work regular hours and full time.
The radiation therapist is an integral part of the treatment team for handling cancer patients. They are responsible for explaining treatment to the patient and answering questions. They prepare the equipment to provide the treatment to the patient. Then they treat the patient and document what was done. They also monitor the patient during treatment for any adverse reactions. Most states require radiation therapists to hold certification and licensing. Most employers require the same. For those who want to pursue this career path, ongoing education is required to keep licensing and certification. Those with experience may move up to a managerial position in the radiation therapy field.