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What are the Different Dosimetrist Jobs?

Patrick Roland
Patrick Roland

A dosimetrist is an important member of any medical oncology team, because she is responsible for administering radiation treatments to cancer patients. There are three main dosimetrist jobs in this field: the actual job dealing with radiation, assisting the dosimetrist, and teaching this skill to others. All revolve around providing the patient with excellent care, efficient treatment and hopefully ridding the body of tumors and cancerous agents.

The most common of all dosimetrist jobs is being the member of an oncology team that calculates and administers radiological treatment. This job has many responsibilities before, during and after treatment. Before treating a patient, the dosimetrist will review medical history and confer with a physician to determine the area to target and the radiation dosage necessary to administer. During the actual procedure, she prepares the body and shields unaffected areas from the radiation, but also monitors various computer programs to ensure the process is happening smoothly. After the radiation is complete, the dosimetrist must help the patient remove any shields, answer questions about side effects and fill out the proper paperwork in the patient file so doctors can be updated.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Another important area of dosimetrist jobs are assistants. A dosimetrist must have a Bachelor's degree and also a great deal of specialized training, but the requirements for an assistant are usually less stringent. The assistant does not deal with calculating treatments, but mainly handles smaller details so the dosimetrist can focus. This can include helping prep the patient, testing equipment to make sure it is operational and handling patient comfort issues. This job is an important component of the oncology unit and larger programs will have several assistants to handle large amounts of patients.

One type of dosimetrist job that is removed from the hospital and clinic setting is teaching. The skills needed to properly administer radiation safely and accurately usually require approximately 18 months of specialized training from experts. These courses focus heavily on the mathematical equations used for measuring radiation, courses on the effects and causes of various forms of cancer, and familiarization with the tools and equipment used to administer radiation. These courses are usually taught by experts that spent many years in the field of dosimetry. These dosimetrist jobs are all varied, but each contributes to the success of the others, and, ideally, to the improved health of the patients.

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