The Radiation Therapy Team
The Radiation Oncologist
The radiation therapy team is headed by a radiation oncologist -- a physician with specialized training and experience in the therapeutic use of radiation. This physician will determine if radiation therapy is an appropriate treatment for the patient and, depending on each patient's specific needs, how it may be used. They will discuss a plan for treatment with the patient and their family to fully inform them of the benefits and risks associated with treatment, ensuring all questions are answered and that the patient is comfortable with starting treatment.
The radiation oncologist may be supported by a radiation oncology resident. Radiation oncology residents have completed a medical doctorate degree prior to joining our radiation oncology residency program, but have chosen to continue their education in the specialty of radiation oncology within our department. The resident will work actively with the radiation oncologist in various aspects of planning and providing a patients treatment, and may interact with the patient during initial consultation and weekly checks during treatment.
The Radiation Physicist
The radiation physicist is a professional with a physical science graduate degree and specialized training in the medical uses of radiation. The physicist tests and monitors the sophisticated technology used in radiation therapy, measuring machine alignment and radiation output to ensure accurate delivery. These measurements are entered into complex computer systems used to plan treatments and calculate doses, and the physicist independently checks each dose calculation used in the treatment. The radiation physicist may be assisted in these duties by a clinical physics resident.
The Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists are licensed professionals who have been specially trained in a certified school of radiation therapy technology. The therapists administer daily radiation treatments, assist in treatment simulation, and perform daily safety checks on all treatment equipment. This person also handles any requests a patient may have related to treatment appointments. They may be supported by a radiation therapy technology student.
The dosimetrist is a board-certified professional trained in radiation treatment delivery techniques and in the computer systems used to plan treatments and calculate patient dose. The dosimetrist works primarily "behind the scenes" with the radiation oncologist, the radiation physicist and the radiation therapist to design a treatment plan that will deliver the prescribed dose to the tissue under treatment while minimizing exposure to normal, healthy tissue.
The Radiation Oncology Nurse
The radiation oncology nurse is a registered nurse who assists in the patient's initial evaluation. Additionally, this person addresses any questions patients may have about their treatment, and how to manage side effects.
It is important that patients bring a list of the specific medications they are taking so that the nurse can document this information during the initial visit. The nurse will meet with the patient frequently to discuss any problems, questions, or concerns they may have regarding their treatment.
Other Team Members
- A dietician is available to meet patients weekly and provide recommendations for good nutrition during treatment
- A social worker is available to help locate transportation to and from the hospital, and to assist with other personal needs.
- A clinically-trained chaplain is available to patients and their families for spiritual and emotional support.
- Radiation therapy office staff are on hand to schedule appointments, maintain records, and provide billing assistance. They can also explain office procedures, and assist with maps and parking availability.