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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Raleigh, North Carolina

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for radiation therapists in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. There are currently 350 working radiation therapists in North Carolina; this should grow 33% to 470 working radiation therapists in the state by 2016. This is better than 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 about $32 hourly or $66,810 annually on average in North Carolina and about $35 hourly or $72,910 yearly on average nationally. Earnings for radiation therapists are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Radiology in North Carolina and not quite as good as general Radiology category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: radiation therapy technician, radiology therapist, and staff radiation therapist.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Raleigh where you can study to be a radiation therapist, among twenty-nine schools of higher education total in the Raleigh 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 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 Raleigh include:

  • Cardiac Technician. Conduct tests on pulmonary or cardiovascular systems of patients for diagnostic purposes. May conduct or assist in electrocardiograms, cardiac catheterizations, pulmonary-functions, lung capacity, and similar tests.
  • 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.
  • Nuclear Medical Technologist. Prepare, administer, and measure radioactive isotopes in therapeutic, diagnostic, and tracer studies utilizing a variety of radioisotope equipment. Prepare stock solutions of radioactive materials and calculate doses to be administered by radiologists. Subject patients to radiation. Execute blood volume, red cell survival, and fat absorption studies following standard laboratory techniques.
  • 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

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill, NC

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a large university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 28,567 students and an admission rate of 35%. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has one to two year, bachelor's degree, and postbaccalaureate certificate programs in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated zero, eleven, and zero students respectively 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: Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina photo by Jmturner

Raleigh is located in Wake County, North Carolina. It has a population of over 392,552, which has grown by 42.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Raleigh, 88, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Raleigh are valued at $217,600 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, 1,685 new homes were built in Raleigh, down from 3,224 the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Raleigh are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 44.9% of Raleigh residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 14.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Raleigh is 7.2%, which is less than North Carolina's average of 10.6%.

The percentage of Raleigh residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Highland Church, Hillcrest Church and Wake Chapel are all churches located in Raleigh. The most prominent religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Raleigh is home to the North Ridge Country Club and the Pamlico Junction as well as Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest and Rothgeb Park. Visitors to Raleigh can choose from Hampton Inn - Capital Blvd. North, Best Western Raleigh Inn and Diamond Hospitality Inc for temporary stays in the area.