Career Profile: Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is a major method of cancer treatment, where high-energy radiation is used to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapists treat over half of all those diagnosed with cancer, as this treatment is amongst the four most common cancer treatments (along with surgery, chemotherapy, and hormonal treatment).
What is the role of a radiation therapist?
Radiation therapists are responsible for the entire radiation treatment, from designing a personalized plan to delivering carefully calculated doses of radiation. They also counsel patients (and their families) throughout the treatment, so patients know what to expect and how to minimize any side effects of radiation. Patients often require multiple treatments over several weeks, allowing radiation therapists to develop close relationships with their patients.
Where do radiation therapist work?
Radiation therapists work in hospitals as clinical specialist radiation therapists, but their career opportunities are not limited to hospitals. Opportunities are available in research, education, management, and sales. It is also worth noting that radiation therapists may further specialize in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).
How do you become a radiation therapist?
In Ontario, the Michener Institute for Education at UHN offers two joint programs in radiation therapy, one with the University of Toronto and the other with Laurentian University. Both programs have received accreditation by the Canadian Medical Association. Upon graduation, students must pass the national certification exam set by the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists. Because this organization is national, students who successfully pass this exam may work anywhere in Canada.
Radiation therapy is an ideal health care profession for those interested in oncology, have strong interpersonal skills, and enjoy working with both technology and people.