Who are the Professionals in Radiation Therapy?
Like all medical procedures, planning and delivering radiation treatments require a team effort. A radiation oncologist heads the cancer patient/radiation therapy care team. Other team members may include radiation therapists, radiation physicists, nurses, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals. Each of these professionals has an important set of responsibilities, described below.
The radiation therapy team (oncologist, physicist and therapist) work together on the patient's radiation treatment. The computer monitor for the control console is in the foreground.
The Radiation Oncologist is a board-certified specialist. After obtaining his or her medical doctorate (MD), these physicians have additional special training making them eligible for examination by the American Board of Radiology. This training includes special instruction in the use of radiation therapy systems and devices.
The Radiation Therapist is specifically trained to operate the sophisticated systems and computers used for radiation treatment. Typically, therapists have had two or more years of training in radiation therapy and are registered by the American Registry of Radiological Technologists. The radiation therapist performs patient treatments under the supervision of the oncologist.
The Radiation Physicist has an advanced degree in physics and/or chemistry and assists the team by assuring the quality and calibration of the therapy systems used for patient care, making sure the proper radiation dose is given, and assisting with the development of new applications.
The Radiation Dosimetrist helps implement the treatment plan by determining the number and duration of treatment sessions.
The Radiation Therapy Nurse may help patients understanding and cope with the side effects of radiation therapy.