Radiation therapists design treatment plans for patients and administer radiation therapy treatment in conjunction with radiologists or other medical specialists, such as oncologists (treating cancer).
Radiation therapists follow the prescriptions of radiologists to establish a treatment plan that delivers the precise radiation dosage to the diseased area. They calculate details of procedures such as length of time and intensity of exposure to radiation, size and strength of dosages and settings of recording equipment. They are required to submit detailed treatment plans to radiologists for approval before treatment is commenced.
Radiation therapists explain procedures to patients and position patients on treatment couches. They monitor patients carefully during the treatment. They identify surface bones and measure and outline with a skin marker the area where the radiation beam is be applied. Then they operate the treatment machines, ancillary equipment and computer verification systems to deliver the planned treatment accurately.
They need to observe quality assurance and safety procedures and record dosage and other relevant details on patients’ record sheets. They advise patients about self-care procedures for radiation side effects, or refer patients for further assistance.
Some radiation therapists prepare radioactive materials for use in radiation treatments and perform associated calculations. Others supervise and train students allocated from universities in the practical aspects of radiation therapy. A further group participates in patient and community education regarding radiation therapy.
Radiation therapists work in hospitals or radiation oncology centres. They work in teams, which include radiologists, nurses, medical physicists and other hospital staff.