Unlike most jobs in the health care field, it’s hard to tell what a medical Dosimetrist does by the name. For instance, you know an x-ray technician works with x-rays, right? What does a Dosimetrist do? A Dosimetrist is an integral part of a radiation oncology team. They specialize in knowing how radiation treatment can help with various illnesses and diseases.
Their education, training and experience qualifies them to figure out the exact dose required for specific treatments for patients. Hence, they tend to run the radiation oncology department. They will also decide how “spread out” a patient’s treatment sessions are, and how much treatment they will receive per appointment.
Although they don’t usually administer the treatment, depending on where they work, they may, at times, find themselves administering radiation treatments as well. They are usually the person in charge of the department, scheduling appointments and deciding the best way to go about treating certain patients.
Dosimetrists may meet with patients to discuss possible treatment plans, and the effectiveness of said plan. Such meetings, if necessary, will take place before any treatment takes place. They will run through all the benefits and risks associated with each type of treatment, along with the success rate. Once a treatment plan has been determined, the Dosimetrist will look at their x-ray images, to determine the best course of action in terms of dosage, and appointment frequency. They will then make the decision, keeping the patient’s welfare in mind. This information will then be inputted into the system, so that the radiation oncology team can go into action.
How Does a Dosimetrist Work?
Dosimetrists must think in terms of protecting the healthy tissues when they decide on a dose of radiation. This is because - if they are treating a lung, they must be protective of the heart. This means the dosage can’t be too high, or they will end up damaging the heart, which can create additional health risks. Therefore, they must be extremely well-educated. Of course, they must be able to process all of the test results, x-rays and medical history before deciding on the treatment.
The first appointment will be to assess the plan. The team wants to ensure that the plan can accurately be repeated each appointment. Casts may need to be made to make sure that the treatment is the same each visit. This is usually done by the x-ray technician; however, a Medical Dosimetrist may pay close attention to what they are doing. Why? To ensure that the success rate for the patient is as high as possible.
Modern radiation equipment is designed to accurately emit a large dose of radiation incredibly accurately. Because of this precision, the radiation therapist can administer high doses of radiation to sensitive areas, without affecting vital organs and living cells. However, the Dosimetrist still must factor the accuracy of their equipment, and leave a slight percentile for human error. Such precaution helps ensure that patients receive the quickest, most successful treatment possible, while ensuring that their health improves.
What Skills Are Required Of a Dosimetrist?
Being a Dosimetrist is an incredibly hard job. It takes a lot of skill, and thought. After all, the life of a patient is within their hands. It’s solely up to them how patients are treated. They need to make sure that they formulate the best, most detailed plan for treatment, so that each patient has the best chance of surviving.
A Dosimetrist needs to be tech-savvy, as they will be expected to work with a huge range of medical equipment. They will be required to read and decipher complicated data and graphs to formulate their treatment plans. They also must be able to use complex algorithms to calculate the best dose of radiation for each patient, and each appointment.
Another skill that a Dosimetrist requires is being organized; they will be processing a lot of paperwork, multitasking with their radiation oncology team, in addition to juggling patient’s concerns, and those are just a few of the issues they must address daily. Dosimetrists need to be great at math. Their mathematical skills must include trigonometry, algebra, as well as calculus. They will be required to use their math abilities to visualize 3-D images, as a part of treatment planning.
They also need to be comfortable working with patients. As a medical doctor, dealing with individuals who are facing one of the toughest challenges of their life requires tacit, decorum, and empathy. This position also demands that patients are treated with the utmost of respect, care and dignity throughout the entire treatment process. At the end of the day, being a Dosimetrist is quite a challenging career. No day will be the same as the last, if you’re up for the challenge, then get started by learning what it takes to land one of the many dosimetry jobs.