Your care is individually tailored for you by our team. Your radiation oncologist, radiation therapist and oncology nurses are the best people to make recommendations and answer your questions about radiation treatments. Our Providence Radiation Oncology Program team includes:
- Radiation Oncologists are the physicians who oversee your radiation therapy treatment. These physicians work with the other members of the radiation therapy team to develop your treatment plan and ensure that each treatment is given safely and accurately. Your radiation oncologist will monitor your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure the radiation is hitting its target, the tumor, while minimizing side effects. Before, during and after your radiation therapy treatments, your radiation oncologist works closely with other cancer doctors such as medical oncologists and surgeons to maximize the radiation’s effectiveness.
Radiation Oncologists are the only physicians with the expertise and training to prescribe and deliver radiation therapy treatments. In addition to college and medical school, five years of additional training are required for radiation oncologists. They receive extensive training in cancer medicine, in the safe use of radiation to treat disease and in managing any side effects caused by radiation. Once they pass an examination by the American Board of radiology, radiation oncologists are board certified.
- Medical Physicists work directly with the radiation oncologist during treatment planning and delivery. They oversee the work of the dosimetrists and help ensure that complex treatments are properly tailored for each patient. Medical physicists are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures. Their responsibility also includes making sure the equipment works properly by taking precise measurements of the radiation beam and performing other safety tests on a regular basis.
Medical physicists follow college with additional graduate training in medical physics to receive a master’s or doctoral degree. Medical physicists are often certified by the American Board of Radiology or the American Board of Medical Physics.
- Radiation Therapists work with radiation oncologists to administer your daily radiation treatment under the doctor’s prescription and supervision. They maintain your daily treatment records and regularly check the treatment machines to make sure they are working properly. In addition, a specialized radiation therapist, called a simulation therapist, works with the radiation oncologist to gather imaging studies and measurements that are necessary for completing your treatment plan. This procedure is called simulation.
Radiation therapists go through a two- to four-year educational program to obtain an associate or baccalaureate degree. In addition, they must pass a national certification exam for radiation therapy administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The State of Oregon also requires licensure for radiation therapists.
- Oncology nurses work together with your radiation oncologist and radiation therapist to care for you and your family during your radiation treatments. They will explain the possible side effects you may experience and describe how you can manage them. In addition, they assess how you are doing throughout your treatment course and will help you cope with any changes you may experience. Certified medical assistants provide support to the oncology nurses and radiation oncologists.
Radiation oncology nurses are licensed registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. Many registered nurses in radiation therapy have earned additional certification in the specialty of oncology nursing, and these nurses hold the oncology certified nurse designation.
- Dosimetrists carefully calculate the dose of radiation prescribed by your radiation oncologist to make sure the tumor gets the prescribed dosage. Using specialized computers, they work to develop a number of treatment plans that can best destroy the tumor while sparing normal tissues. Since treatment plans are often very complex, dosimetrists work with your radiation oncologist and medical physicist to develop a treatment plan that is unique for you.
Many dosimetrists start as radiation therapists and then, with intensive training, become dosimetrists. Others are graduates of one-to-two year dosimetry training programs. Dosimetrists are certified by the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.
- Oncology Social Workers are available to provide a variety of supportive services and to you and your family. They can provide counseling to help you and your family cope with the diagnosis of cancer and with your treatments. They may also help arrange for home healthcare, transportation, financial support, emotional support and other services.
Social workers have a master’s degree and may be licensed. Prior to licensure, they must pass an examination. Many social workers specialize in oncology and are certified by the Board of Oncology Social Workers.
- Other healthcare professionals are available to help you throughout your course of treatment. These specialists ensure that your physical and psychological needs are met during your treatment. Some of the staff includes dieticians, cancer support group facilitators, speech-language pathologists, oncology nurse navigators and physical therapists. In addition, front desk staff can assist in directing you to the right resource or in conveying your needs to the appropriate staff member.