Healthy Living

What Is a Radiation Therapist?

What Is a Radiation Therapist?

About the Profession

You might be wondering what kind of medical professionals radiation therapists are. Sometimes, it is important to understand what medical professionals do in their respective specialty or field. Knowing such information helps us to know who we should look for in case any health issues arise.

A radiation therapist is also known as a radiotherapist or radiographer. A radiotherapist is an allied health expert whose work is involved in the field of radiation oncology. These medical professionals primarily work with cancer patients and other patients with certain infections or conditions.

Their whole job involves the use of machines during the treatment process. Radiation therapists have important skills needed to handle patients in the oncology field. They mostly work with radiation oncologists.

What Is Radiation Therapy?

When you mention a radiation therapist, you must also talk about radiation therapy. It is basically a type of treatment method used in treating cancer. It is also one of the most common methods used in the area of oncology.

The procedure makes use of high-energy waves or particles such as electron beams, photons, or X-rays to destroy cancer cells. However, for this treatment to happen, there must be a trained professional who has enough skills to operate the necessary machines and conduct other medical procedures.

If you are looking for a radiation therapist or you want to become one, then you must know some of the basic details about the profession.

Roles and Duties of a Radiation Therapist

A radiation therapist will have quite a number of duties to perform in the medical area, especially in the oncology department. Their duties include making sure that all the medical activities and procedures are performed in the right manner. Their other roles include:

  • Taking care of the machines used in the oncology center - This is done by examining the machines to make sure that they are working in the right manner. A radiation therapist will keep a track on the working of the machines, service them and make changes where necessary.
  • The radiation therapist also has the duty to talk to the patient - Talking to the patient is meant to make clear explanations concerning the whole treatment procedure. The radiation therapist is also responsible for answering any questions from the patients' concerns about the treatment.
  • Study, understand, follow, and implement safety measures to protect both the patient and themselves - In the department of oncology and other therapy related areas, there are very sensitive machines. Handling and working around these machines require great care to prevent any accidents from radiation.
  • Carry out X-ray examinations to the patients - For any areas to be treated by the use of radiotherapy, the target area must be carefully identified to avoid mistakes. It is, thus, the work of a radiation therapist to carry out X-ray examinations on the patients to identify these specific areas.
  • All the machines working in the radiation area require the right computer programs to ensure efficiency in the type or level of dose delivered - It is, thus, the work of a radiation therapist to examine and check all the computer programs to make sure that the machines will deliver the right dose and in the required area.
  • Operating the machines - to ensure that the treatment is administered in the right manner.
  • Keeps a comprehensive record of the patient’s treatment - keeping medical records is very important for future referencing of the applied treatments.
  • Monitor the patient at all times during the treatment process - This is to check any usual reactions during the procedure.

Who Do Radiation Therapist Work With?

The field of oncology is a large area where there are many medical professionals who work together. An oncology team is essential to achieve an effective flow of work and treatment procedures in the department. For this reason, a radiation therapist must work alongside with other medical professionals. They include:

  • Oncology nurses - These are registered nurses whose work is specialized on taking care of cancer patients.
  • Radiation oncologists - These are basically physicians who specialize in the area of radiation therapy.
  • Radiation physicists - These are physicists whose main work is to calibrate linear accelerators.

What About Their Education and Training?

For one to be a qualified radiation therapist, specific education and training are required. This profession requires a bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy or associate’s degree in the same area.

A radiation therapy degree program is accompanied by a number of courses, which include physics, human physiology and anatomy, algebra, research methodology, and computer science.

Once one is done with the education, he or she must be licensed before working as a radiation therapist. Licensing is also accompanied by various certificates of operation, which are offered by the necessary authorities.

To be licensed in the US, one must graduate with a radiation therapy degree and must be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The fellow should also meet all of the requirements including education, examination, and ethics standards to be eligible for an AART certification.

An ARRT certification exam covers various areas such as quality assurance, clinical concepts in radiation oncology, treatment delivery, treatment planning, and patient care.

How Do You Find a Perfect Radiation Therapist?

Radiation therapists are mostly found in large hospitals or clinics where there are oncology centers. These are medical facilities where cancer treatment is offered. You can choose a registered radiation therapist with the right certification.

In case you want services from a radiation therapist, it is important to book your appointment early enough.

The Bottom Line

Radiation therapists are very important professionals when it comes to the radiation department. For any center offering radiation therapy, a radiation therapist is a must.

Moreover, these experts work on a regular schedule ensuring that everything is attended to in the right time and in the right manner. Most of their schedules are planned in advance to ensure proper flow of tasks. Like any other medical professionals, radiotherapists promote and provide the highest standard of patient care as they perform their daily work to completion. 

Key Takeaways

  • A radiation therapist is also known as a radiotherapist or radiographer.
  • A radiation therapist works together with an oncologist.
  • Like any other medical professionals, radiotherapists promote and provide the highest standard of patient care as they perform their daily work to completion.