There are five items to consider when choosing the best radiation therapy program: education level, equipment, admissions requirements, accreditation, and faculty. Radiation therapy programs can be organized within a larger community college or university. Radiation therapy is the use of ionizing radiation during cancer and non-cancerous treatment programs. The radiation is controlled through the use of specialized machines, which direct the radiation to specific areas of the body.
There are two education levels available for radiation therapy programs: university and college. At the university level, the training provides the theoretical background necessary to become a radiation therapist, or to complete graduate education in radiation therapy. At the college level, the program is much more practical, focusing on the skills required to work as a radiation therapy technologist.
The best radiation therapy program should have a wide range of equipment available for student use. This includes patient mannequins and simulation programs. Check the average class size to ensure you will have ample opportunity to use this equipment. Look for specialized training options, such as job placement or cooperative programs. The equipment required for radiation therapy is very expensive and tightly controlled. Working in a hospital or oncology center is the most efficient way to learn about this career.
In order to qualify for admission to radiation therapy programs, you must have high school courses in biology and English. The best schools are usually located near a large hospital or diagnostic center. Most schools require a personal essay or interview as part of the application process. Radiation therapists work directly with patients who are suffering from serious illnesses and diseases. A certain level of personal maturity is required for admission into this program.
If you are looking at the best radiation therapy program in the country or state, take note that the admissions standard is higher to reflect the increased demand. Review the requirements and reputation and evaluate for yourself if this is truly the best program for you. For example, a student with family responsibilities may find that a program with online course options is the best program. Another student may decide that a part-time program with courses in the evenings and weekends works best. Think about your daily life, what will fit and find the program that works for you.
When looking for radiation therapy programs, always check the accreditation status of the school. An accredited school has been reviewed by an independent third party. Courses from an accredited school can be transferred to other post-secondary institutions. This is very important, as many people change careers and the ability to use credits earn in this program toward other health sciences related programs reduces the time and cost of other training programs.
Most radiation therapy programs provide the biographies of their faculty or instructors on their website. The information listed typically includes the academic credentials, work experience, special training, and any awards they have received. Talk with your admissions counselor about these instructors and explore the potential for assisting them with their research.