Radiation therapy forms an important aspect of most patients’ wellness programs. It deals with designing and administering radiation treatments to cancer patients. Are you planning on becoming a radiation therapist? Well, radiation therapy is one of the most fulfilling careers since it involves helping patients and ultimately changing their lives for the better.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know on how to become a radiation therapist.
Who is a Radiation Therapist?
Radiation therapists specialize in the administration of ionized doses of radiation to cancer patients. They work in conjunction with oncologists, oncology nurses, and medical physicists. A radiation therapist takes X-Rays to assess the part of the body that requires precision radiation treatment.
They also operate and maintain a range of linear accelerators and other general equipment used for radiation procedures such as the new sprd spectra.
As a radiation therapist, your roles will also include monitoring patients’ responses to the treatment and recording the procedure in detail.
It is also the responsibility and duty of a radiation therapist to:
- Inform patients of the radiation treatment program
- Answer any queries by family members concerning the treatment
- Strictly follow radiotherapy safety procedures to safeguard the patient from overexposure to radiation
- Inspect the safety of the machine and calibration of the computer software for proper radiation dose administration.
What Do I Need to Become a Radiation Therapist
The first requirement is all about you; assessing if you have it in you to take care of cancer patients. Besides, radiation therapists require technical skills because the job can be physically demanding beyond just operating the machinery. It is also essential for you to be a people’s person with good interpersonal skills.
Employers look for certain key aspects when hiring a radiation therapist. The following steps will help you achieve the requirements.
- Associate or bachelor’s degree in radiotherapy
- Work experience.
1. Obtaining an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree
If you hold a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy, then you have a higher chance of getting employed. The purpose of the education program is to train you on how to handle and maintain the radiological machinery. It also teaches you how to diagnose and treat cancer patients effectively.
In this degree program, the notable common courses include radiation therapy physics, physiology and anatomy, medical terminology, principles of oncology, dosimetry, radiation protection, and dose calculations.
The program also includes an internship to help you obtain the necessary hands-on experience.
2. Get Licensed
Before you start practicing as a radiation therapist, you need to get a license first. This is a requirement by most states in the U.S. The license shows that you are a Registered Technologist and can, therefore, work in any health facility’s department of radiotherapy.
The licensure requirements slightly vary from state to state, but they’ll all require that you first have a degree from an accredited program.
The American Society of Radiologic Technicians (ASRT) has a list of the licensing requirements by state, as well as contact information for each state agency on their website that you can look at for a start.
3. Become a Certified Radiation Therapist
Getting certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) shows that you’re qualified and meet all the professional standards of a radiation therapist. An associate or bachelor’s degree in radiologic therapy is a prerequisite to obtaining ARRT certification. Competency in clinical procedures and coursework is necessary. Additionally, you must comply with the ARRT ethical standards.
Becoming a certified therapist also means you’ll have to sit for and pass an examination covering various topics such as quality assurance, clinical concepts, and radiation protection.
Moreover, ARRT certification requires annual renewal; you can renew by mail or online through their website. However, they’ll require you to pay a renewal fee of $25 as well as show a continued adherence to the ARRT Standards of Ethics.
Besides, you’re required to complete a continuing education every 2 years and Continuing Qualifications Requirements every 10 years.
4. Obtain Work Experience
Most employers look to hire therapists with at least one year of experience. Therefore, you should get experience by maximizing on internship opportunities or voluntary services.
Most radiation therapists work in hospitals, but you can also look for opportunities in outpatient facilities and doctor’s offices. Hopefully, this guide provides all the information you need to begin your career as a radiation therapist.