Radiation therapists are responsible for accurately planning and administering the radiation treatment for cancer patients. They have expert knowledge in patient care and anatomy, as well in as radiation physics and radiation protection for the safe operation of the equipment. The radiation therapist counsels patients on possible side effects from treatment and provides advice on how to minimize and manage those effects. Because the course of radiation treatment often takes several weeks, a special supportive relationship usually develops between the therapist, the patient and the patient’s family members.
Radiation therapists are key members of the cancer treatment team. They control machines that use high-energy radiation to destroy cancer tumours while protecting the healthy surrounding tissue as much as possible. Sometimes, the radioactive sources are put directly into a patient’s body, thereby targeting the tumour from inside. Radiation therapists deliver radiation treatment with high-energy linear accelerators and computer treatment verification systems.
Radiation therapists are also responsible for all technical planning of a patient’s treatment. They follow a prescription from an oncologist (cancer specialist) and a medical physicist (specialist in physics and medicine), then make and fit devices and aids that help patients receive their treatment. They calculate the radiation doses, focus on the target volumes using simulators and CT scanners, make dose-related calculations and deliver the treatment.
The College has adopted the National Competency Profile (NCP) maintained by the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) for the medical radiation technology specialties we regulate. Previous competency profiles for these specialties have been rescinded. The College acknowledges that the NCP reflects current practice in Alberta.