Choosing a Career as X-ray Therapist

What is the job of a radiation therapist? What degree leads to a career as an X-ray therapist? What does it take to become one?

If you are interested in a profession helping a team of experts administer treatment for cancer, a career as an x-ray therapist may be for you.

Radiation therapists help doctors and technicians administer a form of treatment for cancer patients. This treatment called radiation therapy involves the bombardment of x-ray beams to cancerous tissues to destroy these cells. Radiation therapy may be administered as the sole treatment for a patient’s disease, or in conjunction with chemotherapy or surgery.

To become a radiation therapist, you must take an associate or bachelor’s degree in radiation therapy. Those who have taken a degree in radiography can also become a radiation therapist by taking a certificate program. In order to practice a profession as a radiation therapist, you will have to get a license from your state office. While taking a degree in radiation therapy, you can prepare for a certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists by enrolling in a course that would prepare you to take the certification exam. Getting a certification is not mandatory, but employers who are seeking assurance that their employees are those who adhere to high standards of professionalism will seek those with certification from recognized certifying bodies like the ARRT. As a radiation therapist you can find employment in hospitals, cancer treatment centers, clinics, and universities.

Radiation Therapy Job Description

In radiation therapy, you, as a radiation therapist, work with the radiation oncologist and a dosimetrist. The radiation oncologist is a physician who specializes on treating patients through radiation therapy. The dosimetrist is a technician who determines the dose of radiation to be used for the therapy. The radiation therapist operates the machines used to locate and target tumors (x-ray imaging machine and CT scan). Together, you will plot a treatment plan for a cancer patient’s radiation therapy. On the prescription of the radiation oncologist and the dosimetrist, you will use a machine called the linear accelerator to destroy malignant tissues in cancer patients.

As part of your radiation therapy job, you keep a record of the details of a patient’s treatment. Aside from doing a clinical function in the treatment of a patient’s disease, you also provide important support while the patient is undergoing the treatment. You answer patients’ questions regarding the treatment, and refer them to other professionals when needed. As such, to become a radiation therapist you must have the ability to communicate well, and empathize with patients to provide them with the emotional support they need.

You can find career advancement by pursuing further studies to become an educator, manager of radiation therapy program, chief therapist or dosimetrist. You can also find employment in technical sales.

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