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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in McAllen, Texas

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for radiation therapists in the McAllen, Texas area. There are currently 830 working radiation therapists in Texas; this should grow 41% to about 1,170 working radiation therapists in the state by 2016. 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 $36 per hour or $76,480 yearly on average in Texas and about $35 hourly or $72,910 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Radiation therapists earn less than people working in the category of Radiology generally in Texas and less than people in the Radiology category nationally. People working as radiation therapists can fill a number of jobs, such as: registered radiation therapist, staff radiation therapist, and radiologic therapist.

There are nine schools of higher education in the McAllen area, including one within twenty-five miles of McAllen where you can get a degree to start your career as a radiation therapist. 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 McAllen 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.
  • 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

Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies - Weslaco, TX

Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies, 345 S. Texas Blvd., Weslaco, TX 78596. Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies is a small school located in Weslaco, Texas. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 397 students. Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies has a less than one year program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated 400 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: McAllen, Texas

McAllen, Texas
McAllen, Texas photo by L1CENSET0K1LL

Mcallen is located in Hidalgo County, Texas. It has a population of over 129,776, which has grown by 22.0% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Mcallen, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Mcallen cost $174,400 on average, which is near the state average. In 2008, five hundred seventy-three new homes were constructed in Mcallen, down from seven hundred fifty-four the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Mcallen are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, educational services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 19 minutes. More than 23.6% of Mcallen residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.7%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Mcallen is 7.4%, which is less than Texas's average of 8.1%.

The percentage of Mcallen residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.4%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Emmanuel Baptist Church, Family of Faith Fellowship Church and First Missionary Baptist Church are some of the churches located in Mcallen. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Mcallen is home to the Sam and Marjorie Miller House and the McAllen Memorial Library as well as Schupp Park and Archer Park. Shopping centers in the area include Las Tiendas Plaza Shopping Center and La Plaza Shopping Center.