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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Radiation therapists can find both educational opportunities and jobs in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area. Currently, ninety people work as radiation therapists in New Mexico. This is expected to grow 26% to 120 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for radiation therapists, which sees this job pool growing by about 27.1% over the next eight years. In general, radiation therapists provide radiation therapy to patients as prescribed by a radiologist according to established practices and standards.

Radiation therapists earn approximately $36 per hour or $76,140 yearly on average in New Mexico. Nationally they average about $35 hourly or $72,910 yearly. Earnings for radiation therapists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Radiology in New Mexico and not quite as good as general Radiology category earnings nationally. Radiation therapists work in a variety of jobs, including: radiology therapist, radiation therapy technician, and computed tomography simulation therapist .

There are six schools of higher education in the Las Cruces area, including one within twenty-five miles of Las Cruces where you can get a degree to start your career as a radiation therapist. Radiation therapists usually hold an Associate's, or other 2-year degree, so you can expect to spend about two years studying to be 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 Las Cruces include:

  • 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Radiation Therapist Training

New Mexico State University-Dona Ana - Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico State University-Dona Ana, 3400 S Espina, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001. New Mexico State University-Dona Ana is a medium sized university located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,336 students. New Mexico State University-Dona Ana has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated twenty-one 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.

LICENSES

Radiologic Technologist

Licensing agency: Radiation Control Bureau, New Mexico Environment Department
Address: 1190 St. Francis Drive, Room S2100, PO Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM 87505-5469

Phone: (505) 476-3060
Website: Radiation Control Bureau, New Mexico Environment Department

LOCATION INFORMATION: Las Cruces, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico photo by Yassie

Las Cruces is situated in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. It has a population of over 91,865, which has grown by 23.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Las Cruces, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Las Cruces are valued at $133,900 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, six hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Las Cruces, down from nine hundred eighty the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Las Cruces are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 18 minutes. More than 28.4% of Las Cruces residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.1%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Las Cruces is 5.6%, which is less than New Mexico's average of 7.5%.

The percentage of Las Cruces residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 77.3%, is more than both the national and state average. Mesilla Park Baptist Church, Greater Saint John Church of God in Christ and Valley View Baptist Church are among the churches located in Las Cruces. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Las Cruces is home to the Mesquite Street Original Townsite Historic District and the Walden Hall as well as Frenger Park and Preciado Park. Visitors to Las Cruces can choose from Scoggin Blue LLC, SpringHill Suites Las Cruces and Villa Del Telshor Apartments & Corporate Suites for temporary stays in the area.