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What Is Medical Dosimetry?

If you want to work with high-tech medical equipment and contribute to the treatment of patients with cancer, you might train to work in the field of medical dosimetry. Medical dosimetrists determine the proper radiation dosage used in treating cancer patients. Read on to learn more about medical dosimetry and what it takes to work in the field.

Medical Dosimetry

Medical dosimetry is a part of the field of radiation oncology involving knowledge of advanced mathematics, radiobiology, physics and anatomy. In order to shrink or eliminate tumor growth, some patients receive limited doses of radiation internally or externally. In medical dosimetry, you calculate the amount of these doses and establish the optimal treatment location on a patient's body.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Average Salary (April 2021) $73,552*
Key Skills Attention to detail, stamina to stand on feet for long periods, strength to position patients, interpersonal skills
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 7% growth**
Licensing Requirements Most states require licensing as a radiation therapist; requirements vary

Source: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Applications

If you choose to work in this field, you'll collaborate with medical physicists and radiation oncologists to determine the amount of radiation used to treat a patient's tumor. Your work will usually take place in a hospital, clinic or private practice cancer center. You'd be responsible for calculating the precise volume of a patient's tumor and the treatment location. You may often use computers, advanced medical imaging and other technology to determine the optimal dose of radiation to shrink a tumor while avoiding damage to healthy tissue and organs.

Other Related Tasks

Some patients may need immobilization devices in order to ensure they won't move while receiving treatment in a specific area. Because treatments are usually given in a series of sessions, immobilization devices make certain that patients receive treatment in the same location every time. In these cases, you may need to assist in the casting of molds and placing of patient-specific restraints. It's also important that you monitor and record a patient's total amount of exposure to radiation over time.

Education Required

In order to qualify for training in medical dosimetry, you'll need a good understanding of the physical sciences. There are several options for training programs, including a 4-year baccalaureate degree. If you already have a bachelor's degree in a related field, you can complete a 1- to 2-year graduate certificate. Some schools also offer a master's degree option in medical dosimetry. Your courses will cover the following topics:

  • Anatomy
  • Radiobiology
  • Brachytherapy
  • Radiation safety
  • Physics
  • Calculus