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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Thornton, Colorado

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for radiation therapists in the Thornton, Colorado area. About 140 people are currently employed as radiation therapists in Colorado. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 37% to 190 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for radiation therapists are expected to grow by about 27.1%. In general, radiation therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiologist according to established practices and standards.

A person working as a radiation therapist can expect to earn about $38 per hour or $79,640 annually on average in Colorado and about $35 per hour or $72,910 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for radiation therapists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Radiology in Colorado and not quite as good as general Radiology category earnings nationally. Radiation therapists work in a variety of jobs, including: registered radiation therapist, radiologic therapist, and staff radiation therapist.

There are three schools within twenty-five miles of Thornton where you can study to be a radiation therapist, among fifty-nine schools of higher education total in the Thornton area. Given that the most common education level for radiation therapists is an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, you can expect to spend about two years training to become a radiation therapist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Radiation Therapist

Radiation Therapist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, radiation therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiologist according to established practices and standards. They also duties may include reviewing prescription and diagnosis; acting as liaison with physician and supportive care personnel; preparing equipment, such as immobilization, treatment, and protection devices; and maintaining records, reports, and files.

Radiation therapists maintain records, reports and files as required, including such data as radiation dosages, apparatus settings and patients' reactions. They also position patients for treatment with accuracy in line with prescription. Equally important, radiation therapists have to inspect prescription and identification. They are often called upon to follow principles of radiation protection for patients and others. They are expected to observe and reassure patients during treatment and report unusual reactions to physician or turn apparatus off if unexpected adverse reactions occur. Finally, radiation therapists administer prescribed doses of radiation to specific body parts, using radiation therapy apparatus in line with established practices and standards.

Every day, radiation therapists are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for radiation therapists to conduct most treatment sessions independently, in accordance with the long-term treatment plan and under the general direction of the patient's physician. They are often called upon to check for side effects such as skin irritation, nausea and hair loss to gauge patients' reaction to treatment. They also implement appropriate follow-up care plans. They are sometimes expected to check radiation therapy apparatus to insure proper operation. Somewhat less frequently, radiation therapists are also expected to calculate actual treatment dosages delivered during each session.

Radiation therapists sometimes are asked to help in the preparation of sealed radioactive materials. They also have to be able to educate, ready and reassure patients and their families by answering questions, providing physical assistance, and reinforcing physicians' advice regarding treatment reactions and post-treatment care and store or ready the special applicators containing the radioactive substance implanted by the physician. And finally, they sometimes have to ready and construct apparatus, such as immobilization and protection devices.

Like many other jobs, radiation therapists must have exceptional integrity and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Thornton include:

  • Dental Hygienist. Clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. May educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop X-rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.
  • Emergency Medical Technician. Assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities.
  • Radiological Technician. Maintain and use equipment and supplies necessary to demonstrate portions of the human body on x-ray film or fluoroscopic screen for diagnostic purposes.
  • Radiology Technologist. Take x-rays and Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT or CT) scans or administer nonradioactive materials into patient's blood stream for diagnostic purposes. Includes technologists who specialize in other modalities, such as computed tomography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance.
  • Surgical Technician. Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. May help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeon's assistants, hold retractors, and help count sponges, needles, and instruments.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Radiation Therapist Training

Pima Medical Institute - Denver, CO

Pima Medical Institute, 7475 Dakin St Suite 100, Denver, CO 80221. Pima Medical Institute is a small school located in Denver, Colorado. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 782 students. Pima Medical Institute has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated forty students in 2008.

Anthem College-Denver - Aurora, CO

Anthem College-Denver, 350 Blackhawk Street, Aurora, CO 80011. Anthem College-Denver is a small college located in Aurora, Colorado. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 405 students. Anthem College-Denver has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated eleven and forty-one students respectively in 2008.

Concorde Career Colleges - Aurora, CO

Concorde Career Colleges, 111 N. Havana Street, Aurora, CO 80010-4314. Concorde Career Colleges is a small college located in Aurora, Colorado. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 686 students and an admission rate of 100%. Concorde Career Colleges has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated thirty-three students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Nuclear Cardiology Technologist: Professional certification is a vital component of a successful career.

For more information, see the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Thornton, Colorado

Thornton, Colorado
Thornton, Colorado photo by bonjourpeewee

Thornton is located in Adams County, Colorado. It has a population of over 113,429, which has grown by 37.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Thornton, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Thornton are priced at $176,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, two hundred ninety-five new homes were constructed in Thornton, down from four hundred eighty-four the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Thornton are educational services, health care, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 29 minutes. More than 19.9% of Thornton residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Thornton is 6.3%, which is less than Colorado's average of 6.6%.

The percentage of Thornton residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 30.4%, is less than both the national and state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Lutheran Church.