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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Vancouver, Washington

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for radiation therapists in the Vancouver, Washington area. There are currently 340 jobs for radiation therapists in Washington and this is projected to grow 21% to about 410 jobs 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.

The income of a radiation therapist is about $42 hourly or $87,780 annually on average in Washington. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $35 hourly or $72,910 per year on average. Compared with people working in the overall category of Radiology, people working as radiation therapists in Washington earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Radiology nationally. Jobs in this field include: radiation therapy technologist , radiation therapy technician, and radiology therapist.

There are forty-eight schools of higher education in the Vancouver area, including two within twenty-five miles of Vancouver 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, it will take about two years to learn 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 Vancouver 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.
  • Optometrist. Diagnose, manage, and treat conditions and diseases of the human eye and visual system. Examine eyes and visual system, diagnose problems or impairments, prescribe corrective lenses, and provide treatment. May prescribe therapeutic drugs to treat specific eye conditions.
  • 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

Portland Community College - Portland, OR

Portland Community College, 12000 SW 49th Avenue, Portland, OR 97219-7132. Portland Community College is a large college located in Portland, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 26,657 students. Portland Community College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated forty-one students in 2008.

Apollo College-Portland Inc - Portland, OR

Apollo College-Portland Inc, 2004 Lloyd Center, 3rd Floor, Portland, OR 97232-1309. Apollo College-Portland Inc is a small college located in Portland, Oregon. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 1,209 students and an admission rate of 98%. Apollo College-Portland Inc has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated forty-five 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: Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver, Washington photo by Matthiasb

Vancouver is located in Clark County, Washington. It has a population of over 163,186, which has grown by 13.7% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Vancouver, 98, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Vancouver are priced at $95,700 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, two hundred eighty new homes were built in Vancouver, down from four hundred twenty the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Vancouver are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, computer and electronic products, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 21.7% of Vancouver residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.4%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Vancouver is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Vancouver residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 27.9%, is less than both the national and state average. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Vancouver is home to the Vancouver Square and the Vancouver Plaza as well as Leverich Park and Wintler Park. Shopping malls in the area include Arbours Shopping Center, Millport Shopping Center and Vancouver Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Vancouver can choose from Comfort Suites Vancouver, Homewood Suites Portland-Vancouver and Best Western Hotel and Suites Vacouver Mall Dr for temporary stays in the area.