Radiation Therapists

Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer in the human body. As part of a medical radiation oncology team, radiation therapists use machines called linear accelerators to administer radiation treatment to patients. Linear accelerators are most commonly used in a procedure called external beam therapy, which projects high-energy X rays at targeted cancer cells. As the X rays collide with human tissue, they produce highly energized ions that can shrink and eliminate cancerous tumors. Radiation ...


Source: bls.gov/oco/ocos299.htm
Last Updated: February 27, 2014, 9:58 pm
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What does palliative treatment mean?
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Career Field
Job Satisfaction
Interview Difficulty
Healthcare
Vacation
Hours per Week
Health
90%
Average
Provided
Two Weeks
40 Hrs/Wk
Education Requirements

Radiation Therapist have completed an associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in radiation therapy. Most states require a license to practice Radiation Therapy. Some Radiation Therapist get by, by completing a 12 month certification. However, most employers require at least an associate's degree.

Work Environment

Radiation therapists are on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn disabled patients. Because they work with radiation and radioactive material, radiation therapists must follow safety procedures to make sure that they are not exposed to a potentially harmful amount of radiation. These procedures usually require therapists to stand in a different room while the patient undergoes radiation procedures.

Source: bls.gov/oco/ocos299.htm

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Radiation Therapists Reviews

Jun 16, 2014
Why did you choose this profession?
At a very young age I was convinced I wanted to work in the medical and I went through many different fields of medicine however, I could never put my finger on exactly which field of medicine I thought would best suit me as well as one in which I could impact the greatest. That was, until I came across radiation therapy. Radiation therapy has the perfect balance between technology and hands on practice. But, my biggest factor when choosing this career was how much patient exposure I would have and I wanted a job that would allow me to directly impact the lives of others.
Jun 16, 2014
Why did you choose this profession?
I have a knack for interacting with people in extreme or high stress situations.
What do you enjoy about being a Radiation Therapists?
Its a thankful job. I have the opportunity to help someone feel better and even be cured.
What areas do you dislike about being a Radiation Therapists?
Pediatrics is always very heart breaking and it can upsetting when a patient you think is doing well takes a turn for the worst.
What special skills does it take to be a Radiation Therapists?
I have great interpersonal skills and can usually put nervous patients at ease fairly quickly.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with the loss of a patient I may have come to know & like very much.
Tell me about the hours you are used to working and your schedule.
Normally a regular day is 7-3 but I have stayed when necessary until much later when there have been issues with the machine or a therapist couldnt make it in.
What are some of the benefits you are custom to as a Radiation Therapists?
I have medical benefits so they are not necessary.
What are some of your most memorable experiences as a Radiation Therapists?
Having a patient return and hug me saying she thought I was very helpful in her healing process.
What do you wish you knew starting out in your profession that you know now?
I dont always deal with extremely sick individuals, some are newly diagnosed and highly treatable. It makes the job worth it when you know your part of the recovery and treatment process.
What advancements do you expect in the future?
Upon review I think recognition in salary and experience would be a step toward promotion.
Jul 6, 2014
What do you enjoy about being a Radiation Therapists?
The satisfaction and the feeling I get when I helped a patient and seeing their smile and gratitude.
What areas do you dislike about being a Radiation Therapists?
When I see children with cancer or somebody in a lot of pain.
Jul 10, 2014
Why did you choose this profession?
I wanted a rewarding career within a healthcare environment.
What do you enjoy about being a Radiation Therapists?
Patient contact, varied workflow and dealing with challengies.
What special skills does it take to be a Radiation Therapists?
I can problem solve in a logical way taking into account the bigger picture and I enjoy patient contact.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Image matching and dealing with difficult situations.
Tell me about the hours you are used to working and your schedule.
I rotate through various shift patterns between 7am and 7pm.
What are some of the benefits you are custom to as a Radiation Therapists?
I feel that I would make more of a contribution to the team as my scope of practice increased.
What are some of your most memorable experiences as a Radiation Therapists?
Patients that thank you or come back just to see us.
What advancements do you expect in the future?
This is a very forward thinking progressive department - 4D and gating is currently being implemented.
How often did you work in teams as a Radiation Therapists?
Most of the time - all of my previous jobs involved working within a team.
What types of customer engagement have you experienced?
I took great pride in providing excellent customer service and going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.
What type of stressful, high pressure situations, have you experienced?
Machine breakdowns resulting in long delays, highly emotional patients either angry or distressed.
If you had to start over, what career would you choose instead of being a Radiation Therapists?
As an alternative I would choose occupational therapy.
Jul 12, 2014
What do you enjoy about being a Radiation Therapists?
I love talking to patients and making them feel comfortable. I also love the teamwork and bond with other coworkers.
Radiation Therapists Interview Questions
Top
1. What does palliative treatment mean?
Top Answer
Palliative treatment is a term used when a patient is receiving radiation treatments to help ease the pain when their cancer has spread throughout their body especially bones.
Second Best
Palliative treatment means that the intent of the treatment is for symptom relief and to improve quality of life.
3.
The simplest answer is that palliative treatment is not radical treatment; the doses are lower and the intent of the treatment is not necessarily to cure the patient. Palliative treatment covers a wide variety of radiation therapy, it could be for pain control, or emergency situations such as a svc or spinal cord compression. Improving the patients quality of life while creating the least amount of interuption.
4.
Palliative treatment is used to improve quality of life and is not intended to cure. Palliative radiation therapy treatment can aid in reducing pain or intervening on an emergency for example a bleed or compression are two cases radiation could be applied.
5.
Palliative treatment is used to improve quality of life and is not intended to cure. Palliative radiation therapy treatment can aid in reducing pain or intervening on an emergency for example a bleed or compression are two cases radiation could be applied.
6.
Providing treatment to patients who are terminally ill.
7.
Relieving and preventing the suffering and pain of patients.
2. Do you have a high level of tolerance for being around patients that may appear unhealthy from their chemotherapy?
Top Answer
Absolutely. I want a career in this field to help cure patients who are battling cancer, and a part of that is being around the patients who are all in different stages of cancer.
Second Best
Yes, although it is an uneasy situation I feel that empathy for someone going through such difficult situation. They might not look healthy but they are human just like you and I and deserve the utmost respect.
3.
Yes, I do have a high tolerance of unhealthy patients.
4.
Yes, I have a very strong mentality and have built my strength up for dealing with patients that appear unhealthy.
5.
I have been in this field for 11 years and have a great deal of patience and understanding for our sick tired and overwhelmed patients.
6.
I have extensive experience of working with patients during my medical school education e.g. I have seen patients with skin conditions and cancer patients and it gives me a nourishing experience to help patients.
7.
I do, but I will treat them like any ordinary patient and provide whatever needs necessary to comfort them.
3. If you do not understand the radiation oncologist's plan, what would you do?
Top Answer
If I receive anything from the radiation oncologist that I do not fully comprehend then I would not hesitate to ask them to elaborate more on the treatment plan because at the end of the day , this is not about me but it is about the patient receiving the best accurate care.
Second Best
If there is ever any doubt concerning a patients treatment or care I would immediately consult the Doctor.
3.
I will ask the consultant again and if they are not available I will ask someone else in the team who would know and can explain.
4.
Consult with the radiation oncologists to confirm the course of action.
5.
Ask questions and discuss with physician, dosimetry, and the other therapists.
6.
I would see if another therapist that I was working with understood and if I still was not confident in moving forward I would work my way up to Dr. Lai by going to dosimetry and physics or directly to dr. Lai and ask him to clarify what he is intending.
7.
I would try to verify it with him or consult a physicist.
4. Can you explain to me, why patients receive radiation therapy?
Top Answer
Radiation therapy is chosen asd it is a localised treatment as opposed to chemotherapy being systemic. The advantage of this is that the patient will not experience hairloss, vomiting etc and should only experience sideeffects in the area being treated. (patients may experience fatigue) Radiation therapy is.
Second Best
Patients receive radiation therapy to help control or cure their disease. Some patients need pain relief and are too advanced to be cured by our help but some radiation would help with their pain control. Otherwise we are trying to eliminate the disease alone with radiation therapy or in conjuncture with chemotherapy and or surgery.
3.
To cure their cancer or to control/shrink the cancer and provide symptom relief.
4.
Patients receive radiation therapy for complete radical treatment or as paliative treatment for malignacies.
5.
Patients receive radiation therapy to cure the cancer.
6.
Patients receive radiation therapy for many reasons. Radiation is used to destroy cancer cells; however some patients receive radiation along with chemotherapy or immunotherapy, also before a surgical procedure to help shrink a tumor that is going to be removed, and sometimes patients receive radiation after a surgical procedure has already been performed, to destroy any smaller cells that were left behind after surgery.
7.
Patients receive radiation treatments usually in conjunction with chemotherapy or after/before surgery to increase their chances for survival/cure.
5. Why is it important that the patient remain in the same position during each treatment?
Top Answer
Radiation therapy is a field that focuses on very precise and accurate treatments. Thinking back to the process of how the patient goes from the CT Simulation to their treatments, it is important to remember that the treatment we deliver and the plan that is approved to deliver the treatment is based on the CT Scan and all the doses and calculations are based on that position from their scan. If they were treated not in the same position, we would not be able to deliver the treatment as per treatment plan.
Second Best
The patients treatment plan is based on the original CT and positioning that went along with it. For best results it is crucial that the patient remain in the same position daily to target the tumor area and deliver the full dose to maximize chance of survival.
3.
So that they get appropriate dose in the target area where treatment is required.
4.
To make sure that the radiation is going to the exact spot where it needs to be going which was measured accordingly in their treatment plan and must be consistent throughout treatments.
5.
We want to make sure we are treating the target as accurately as possible and part of doing that is ensuring the patient is in the same poistion. A difference in positon could mean potential underdosing of the target and/or overdosing of critical structures.
6.
Radiation therapy is usually a local treatment. In order for the radiation to be delivered in the most accurate way, the patient has to stay still and the beam has to go to the exact place of where the target tumor is in order for the patient to receive the best dose in an unhealthy cell and not in a healthy cell.
7.
Radiation therapy is location specific, and once the patient is line up with the beams and slight movement or shifts could cause the treatment to be administered on healthy tissue rather than the area of need.
6. If a patient can not sit still during treatment, or prior to treatment, what would you do?
Top Answer
If a patient were to keep shifting around prior to or during treatment, I would utilize the different pieces of equipment available, such as the hand ring or the leg bolus to keep the patient in the correct position. To keep the patient from feeling like they were being restrained, I would also remind them about the importance of them remaining still during treatment for safety reasons.
Second Best
If the patient would have to get any pain medication, I would first make sure patient got it before he enters the treatment room. Make sure I give enough time to the pain medication to work. If the patient is nervous and accordingly, he is struggling to stay still on the bed I would talk to the patient and calm him self down. I would ask him to relax and explain him the importance of staying still during the treatment. If the patient can not manage to say still at all, I would use other supporting immobilization devises to keep the patient in a stable position.
3.
I would use the objects available to hold the patient in position.
4.
Make him as much comfortable to maitain the right position.
5.
I would explain to them the importance of sitting still and run through the safety guide lines. If necessary I would use the available equipment.
6.
I would start by emphasizing the importance of remaining completely still during treatment for greater success overall.
7.
I will explain to them if it is necessary for the treatment and help them trying to sit still; ask them to focus on something; an object in the room to help them sit still.
7. Do you enjoy working with a team? Specifically the radiation oncologist?
Top Answer
I enjoy teamwork. The doctor was great that I worked with.
Second Best
Yes I do. Growing up I played soccer and was nominated captain by my teammates. I enjoy working with others to not only create a strong team but to better each other.
3.
Yes, I enjoy working with a team. While I was doing my observation hours, I recognized that working well as a team being led by the radiation oncologist created a great environment for work as well as a comfortable environment for the patients.
4.
Yes, I thrive the best when working with a team. I loved the oncologist whom I worked with.
5.
I am a very team oriented person and I worked very well as part of a team for 11 years.
6.
I have particular interest in cancer treatments and in my previous education I was part of a pbl group where team work was the essence of the role. I enjoyed working in team and my tutor was a histopatholosgist who inspired me to study cancer pathology and radiotherapy.
7.
Yes, they always say two minds are better than one.
8. How do you deal with stress?
Top Answer
I am very calm and collective. I can handle any situation without getting stressed or at least showing stress.
Second Best
I just take a deep breath and concentrate on whats important and deal with it.
3.
I am a very logical person so I stop and think about what it is that I'm stressing about. I will make a plan to fix whatever it is that is making me stressed. If it is something beyond my control, I do whatever I can to not allow the stressor to get to me.
4.
When stress arises, I always take the time to stop take a deep breath and think about the problems and items that need to be accomplished. I gather all my thoughts and make an organized plan as to what is to be done and what things need to be done first.
5.
When im faced with a stressful situation I don't let it take control of my emotions instead I stay focused on the final goal and thinking positive always calms me down, personal motivation.
6.
Take a deep breath and survey the situation. Then find the best way to proceed.
7.
Whenever I find myself in a stressful situation I always take a step back and analyze the situation, I remember my training and run through solutions in my head considering each outcome and then act according.
9. Can you explain to me how radiation therapy kills cancer cells?
Top Answer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. It can either damage the DNA directly or create charged particles within the cells that will in turn damage the DNA. However, it is important that the radiation only be delivered to cancer cells because normal cells can be damaged too.
Second Best
Radiation kills cells that are damaged by cancer so that they cannot divide and spread keeping them localized.
3.
What radiation does is it targets the DNA of cells and induces damage that way and it works in two ways. It can damage the DNA to promote cell killing and it can damage the DNA to prevent stop DNA replication so that the cancer cells do not multiply.
4.
Radiation therapy targets dividing cells, majority of them in M phase and damages their DNA. When this has been damaged, cells are unable to divide and are killed.
5.
Radiotherapy works by damaging the DNA inside the tumor cells, destroying their ability to reproduce. It uses high-energy particles to destroy or damage cancer cells.
6.
High levels of radiation interact with the cancer cell DNA causing cellular death.
7.
Radiation therapy targets the tumor cells and destroys there ability to reproduce.
10. Did you enter Radiation Therapy for the financial benefits, or do you genuinely care about helping patients?
Top Answer
When I chose this career I had no idea what the salary was. I watched a relative receive their treatment and was determined that this was what I wanted to do.
Second Best
I have an extreme desire to help and care for patients particularly cancer patients.
3.
My reason for choosing this career is based on a personal experience. My grandmother was the motivation in me choosing radiation therapy as a career. She lost her battle with lung cancer. I only read about the monetary benefit after I was already convinced that this is the career for me. I have always enjoyed taking care of others and after much thinking I know that the healthcare filed is where I want to be.
4.
I am seeking to help patients. It makes me feel good when I know I am doing something beneficial and making a difference. I would like to make their experience as positive as can be with an attitude of warmth and empathy.
5.
I entered radiation therapy because I genuinely care about helping patients. I knew that I wanted a career in the medical field because it involved helping to relieve suffering in individuals. I have always been a compassionate person and wanted a career that involved caring for people.
6.
Definitely about caring for patients. I believe by working as a radiation therapist is rewardable. You make a difference in the lives of people and it is such a noble deed being able to give someone a chance to get their life back.
7.
Cancer has touched most families, including my own. Having a career which is rewarding has always been important to me.
11. How do you handle dealing with a patient that is obviously deathly ill?
Top Answer
I am a caring and loving person and willing to try to make any patient happy regardless of what the situation may be.
Second Best
You do everything you can to make them feel comfortable. You also cannot show that you are sadden by their condition, you have to stay strong for them.
3.
I would give them comfort and give them the chance to talk about their fears and hold their hand. I would try to make them feel like they’re the only patient being treated that day. If I was dying, I wouldn’t want to feel rushed or like I was in the way and that is the dignity I try to give to all my patients. I would try to stay positive for them and smile – I believe a smile goes a long way for these patients. I’d do everything I could to keep.
4.
I would treat them with dignity and try to stay positive and optomistic because we can not forsee the future so as a therapist we should be supportive and continue to care for them as we would like to be cared for if we were in their shoes.
5.
I try my best to make them feel comfortable despite their situation. I try to show that there are people who care for their well being.
6.
Support them as much as possible. Always be friendly.
7.
Staying positive and providing support for the patients on their good and bad days. Always listening to what they have to say.
12. When did you realize you wanted to be a radiation therapist?
Top Answer
About a year ago.
Second Best
I realized it when I lost a loved who was very close to me to cancer and I wanted to be able to help people.
3.
I was looking online for a good career and the more I read about what you do and how much you help people, the more interested I was.
4.
When I lost my aunt to cancer.
5.
I ralized I wante t be a radiation therapist when my mother was affecetd by cancer and I felt helpless.
6.
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
7.
I spent a lot of time considering professions in the medical field. I researched and found this field. My family has lost many to cancer and I wanted to help others.
13. Tell me about your education. Do you feel well prepared for this career?
Top Answer
Yes, I have had much education throughout my years and I feel ready to advance.
Second Best
Yes I feel I am well prepared for this career. I applied last year straight out of school but did not get accepted, so I took the pathway of doing health science to get in. I feel this course has helped me grow immensely in both knowledge of the body but also the clinical setting.
3.
I was very fortunate to be trained at the best facilities in my home town. It prepared me to be aware of what it is out there.
4.
The Mohawk-Mcmaster program taught be a broard range of subjects through my courses in radiobiology, medical physics, anatomy,patient care, treatment planning, and skills. Classroom formats were very interactive which promoted a team atmosphere.
5.
Yes I have been volunteering in a radiation oncology office weekly and I have also been taking science classes to help me have a better understanding of the human body and its background.
6.
I feel like i am a blank canvas. As a student you do a lot of watching along with hands on education on how to set a patient up. but every clinic or hospital has their own technique. I feel prepared but im more excited and eager to start my career
7.
Yes i redo feel very weel prepared for this career.
14. What is the difference between a CT and an MRI?
Top Answer
Basically, a CT scan is used more for bony anatomy and internal organs, while an MRI is used to view soft tissue.
Second Best
A CT exam uses radiation to obtain images and MRI does not use radiation but electromagnetic waves. CT exams are much quicker than MRI exams. Each have there benefits and downfalls.
3.
A CT uses kV radiation to take images and it displays the image based on the electron densities of the tissues that the xrays have passed through. An MRI uses magnetic fields and not xrays to take the image.
4.
Ct uses ionizing radiation and mri uses magnetic resonance for imaging. Mri is usually good at looking at soft tissues and ct is good at boney anatomy.
5.
Computerised tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
6.
CT uses radiation for imaging where as MRI uses a magnetic resonance technology.
7.
CT scan uses Xray where as MRI uses magnetic resonance. Depending on what needs to be observed, the CT scan is really good for examining bones structure and density where as the MRI is good for looking at tissue.
15. How long has radiation therapy been around?
Top Answer
If I remember correctly the use of radiation for treatments started around 1890s immediatly after the discovery of the potential of xrays for diagnostic imaging.
Second Best
A long time! At least since the very early 1900s. The administration techniques have changed vastly over the years and there continues to be futher developments in treatment delivery. I think this is part of what makes it such an interesting career; there is the potential for so much development and differnt studies, different technologies.
3.
Radiation has been around since Whilhem Rontgen discovered X-Rays in 1896
4.
More than 100 years with many many advances in technology.
5.
I must admit I do not know the exact year RT was introduced. However it is a fast developing treatment that has evolved over the years as our understanding and research has improved.
6.
It has been around for 0ver 100 years, practices keep evolving but the concept is not new.
7.
The idea of using radiation to treat cancer has been around for over 100 years, not long after the very first discovery of x-rays in 1895.