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Career and Education Opportunities for Radiation Therapists in Huntington, West Virginia

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for radiation therapists in the Huntington, West Virginia area. About 160 people are currently employed as radiation therapists in West Virginia. By 2016, this is expected to grow 22% to about 200 people employed. 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.

Income for radiation therapists is about $30 per hour or $64,230 annually on average in West Virginia. Nationally, their income is about $35 hourly or $72,910 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Radiology, people working as radiation therapists in West Virginia earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Radiology nationally. Jobs in this field include: staff radiation therapist, dosimetrist, and radiology therapist.

There are seventeen schools of higher education in the Huntington area, including four within twenty-five miles of Huntington where you can get a degree to start your career as a radiation therapist. The most common level of education 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 Huntington 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.
  • 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

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College - Mount Gay, WV

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Dempsey Branch Road, Mount Gay, WV 25637. Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College is a small college located in Mount Gay, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,258 students. Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated fifteen students in 2008.

Marshall Community and Technical College - Huntington, WV

Marshall Community and Technical College, 1 John Marshall Way, Huntington, WV 25755. Marshall Community and Technical College is a small college located in Huntington, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,533 students. Marshall Community and Technical College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated eighteen students in 2008.

Shawnee State University - Portsmouth, OH

Shawnee State University, 940 Second St, Portsmouth, OH 45662. Shawnee State University is a small university located in Portsmouth, Ohio. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 3,976 students. Shawnee State University has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated eighteen students in 2008.

Ashland Community and Technical College - Ashland, KY

Ashland Community and Technical College, 1400 College Drive, Ashland, KY 41101-3683. Ashland Community and Technical College is a small college located in Ashland, Kentucky. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,550 students. Ashland Community and Technical College has an associate's degree program in Medical Radiologic Technology/Science - Radiation Therapist which graduated one student 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: Huntington, West Virginia

Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington, West Virginia photo by DelanoPatterson

Huntington is situated in Cabell County, West Virginia. It has a population of over 49,185, which has shrunk by 4.4% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Huntington, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Huntington cost $195,100 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, sixteen new homes were built in Huntington, down from thirty-five the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Huntington are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is health care, educational services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 18 minutes. More than 22.4% of Huntington residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 9.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Huntington is 7.7%, which is the same as West Virginia's average of 7.7%. About 24.7% of Huntington's residents are below the poverty line, which is worse than the state average.

The percentage of Huntington residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.7%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Glorious Church of God in Christ, South Side United Methodist Church and Good Samaritan United Methodist Church are some of the churches located in Huntington. The largest religious groups are the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Huntington is home to the Northcott Hall and the Foster Memorial Home as well as Holderby Commons and United States Post Office and Courthouse Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Westland Plaza Shopping Center, Fairfield Plaza Shopping Center and Huntington Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Huntington can choose from Super 8, Cabell Huntington Hospital and Garden Park for temporary stays in the area.