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If Radiation Therapists get paid 80k, & have low tuition, then why...

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megaton

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go through all the hassles of post-graduate professional school ?

Lately, ive read about the salaries of various health occupations.

For example, an optometrists earns roughly 90k. thats by going through 8 years of school and spending 100+ towards tuition.

Why not just go into radiation therapy? school costs alot less and is shorter in length and the salary is comparable.

Perhaps I have been misinformed as I read about radiation therapy from posts dated 2006.

Is radiation therapy still in demand, and moreover, are there many jobs availible?

thanks
 

RAMPA

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go through all the hassles of post-graduate professional school ?

Lately, ive read about the salaries of various health occupations.

For example, an optometrists earns roughly 90k. thats by going through 8 years of school and spending 100+ towards tuition.

Why not just go into radiation therapy? school costs alot less and is shorter in length and the salary is comparable.

Perhaps I have been misinformed as I read about radiation therapy from posts dated 2006.

Is radiation therapy still in demand, and moreover, are there many jobs availible?

thanks

its not all about the $$$

iron workers make $40hr in some areas of the country, so why even bother with going to college?
 

mig26x

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toll booth operator at the mass pike in MA make 55-65K per year!!! People are pretty angry for that because thats a very simple job to earn that much.
 

loykastj

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its not all about the $$$

iron workers make $40hr in some areas of the country, so why even bother with going to college?

Couldn't agree more.

The family who owns/operates cleaning company that has the contract to clean my dad's office building live in a $1.5mil house and drive nice cars, does that mean I want to vacuum and clean toilets for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week? %#!& no.
 

megaton

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yea, ofcourse its not.

Im just saying that you can go through less schooling, less debt etc. and end up in virtually the same working conditions etc.

Isn't there something extremely fishy when someone who goes to school for 4 years with not much debt and ends up making 80k, while another person goes through more schooling and more debt, only to end up making slightly more?

Obviously, a doctor is not a therapist, nor is a therapist a doctor. But I just don't understand why the amount earned, if so, is the same.
 

RAMPA

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yea, ofcourse its not.

Im just saying that you can go through less schooling, less debt etc. and end up in virtually the same working conditions etc.

Isn't there something extremely fishy when someone who goes to school for 4 years with not much debt and ends up making 80k, while another person goes through more schooling and more debt, only to end up making slightly more?

Obviously, a doctor is not a therapist, nor is a therapist a doctor. But I just don't understand why the amount earned, if so, is the same.

supply and demand

RNs can get an associates degree and make 80K easily their first year and have ZERO debt...
 

mig26x

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supply and demand

RNs can get an associates degree and make 80K easily their first year and have ZERO debt...

Oh the beauty of nursing and yet they complain so much!!!
 

berlfe03

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I very highly doubt that nurses straight out of college are making 80k. But I do agree they complain a lot.
 

megaton

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so there is demand currently?

i dont know why, but i dont feel like i'd be happy being a rad therapist ALL my life, or even a nurse for that matter, because it feels like you are a worker, not a supplier.
 

foreverLaur

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I very highly doubt that nurses straight out of college are making 80k. But I do agree they complain a lot.

They do in some areas of the country, but typically the areas that have a higher cost of living.

Where my aunt works in Orange County, CA the RNs who work 7 12-hr shifts per 2 week pay period often make more than the NPs out there. Quite a few of them are in the 6 digits.
 

Farmer Jane

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I don't make $80K. In order to make $80K I would have to work so many hours that I would be constantly complaining. :laugh:
 

maceo

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I very highly doubt that nurses straight out of college are making 80k. But I do agree they complain a lot.
they complain a lot because they are all women. Women complain.
 

megaton

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ok, lets get back to the topic.

How many of you feel that rad therapists, nurses etc. are more like workers than providers, such as MD's for example ?

im young, and i just feel like i would be limiting my potential by going through the rad therapist route.

thoughts?
 
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Farmer Jane

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megaton, I can't speak to radiation therapists. As a nurse, not a provider, and that was never my expectation. Conversely, I'm not a worker if you're defining "worker" as more of a technician who simply does tasks. In my role (a specialty ICU) there are constant assessments and decisions being made, and I rather enjoy the combination of intellectual and physical work.

Ultimately, there's really nothing wrong with any job--it's just a matter of what suits you. If you would not be happy being anything other than a provider, than you should be a provider. I've wanted to be a nurse since I was 16, I became one, and I'm quite happy with it. I know plenty of people in technician, task-based roles who are happy with it. It just depends on your personality.
 

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Megaton,

I'm also young and reading about various health professions. Quite frankly, the salaries between health professions is mind boggling. You give the example of an optometrist, and I totally agree... a nurse or a radiation therapist can make just as much with half the school.

Some people might just go to OD school to become "doctors", just for the prestige (most patients don't know the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists).

I dunno... the best advise I can give you (an this is what I am doing) is to continue researching, shadowing, then select the profession that interests you, has good pay, and good hours.

Best of luck.
 

DocNusum

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go through all the hassles of post-graduate professional school ?


Because you may get tired of developing intense therapeutic relationships with people that only lasts 1 week to 3 months... then they DIE...:(

Then YOU die from exposure...

My wife is/was a radiation therapist (mostly PEDIATRIC:eek:) from 1993-1998 (still has her license)...
She had to quit... it was toooooooo depressing... :(
 

Darklord

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Some people can handle it. Not everyone is cut out for everything. Hospice, oncology, PICU, ect, are all tough fields.
 

Dusto

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I am currently a radiation therapy student. It is true that in some areas therapists are making 80+ a year but it all depends on where you live. In my hometown starting salary is around 70K. At the end of the day (which ends at 430p M-F:) ) it is a great job. Speaking from my own experiance I can say the training can be very intense. Therapists are trained in several different modalities including CT, XRay and Ultrasound. As far as dealing with terminal patients I find it very rewarding. There are many opportunities for therapists also, companies like Varian and Siemens look for former therapists to sell their equipment or you could pursue a little more training (a year or so) and become a dosimetrist 100K+. I completely agree with Farmer Jane in that it is dependent on your personality if you would be happy as a "worker". I myself plan on pursuing medical school because I want to be the one sailing the ship someday :)


Oh and you will not DIE from exposure. Working with live sources is rare, typically the Rad Oncologist, physicists deal with HDR and seeds. The exposure that we recieve is less than airline pilots/crew/other radiologic techs/people that work outside all day.
 

megaton

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I am currently a radiation therapy student. It is true that in some areas therapists are making 80+ a year but it all depends on where you live. In my hometown starting salary is around 70K. At the end of the day (which ends at 430p M-F:) ) it is a great job. Speaking from my own experiance I can say the training can be very intense. Therapists are trained in several different modalities including CT, XRay and Ultrasound. As far as dealing with terminal patients I find it very rewarding. There are many opportunities for therapists also, companies like Varian and Siemens look for former therapists to sell their equipment or you could pursue a little more training (a year or so) and become a dosimetrist 100K+. I completely agree with Farmer Jane in that it is dependent on your personality if you would be happy as a "worker". I myself plan on pursuing medical school because I want to be the one sailing the ship someday :)


Oh and you will not DIE from exposure. Working with live sources is rare, typically the Rad Oncologist, physicists deal with HDR and seeds. The exposure that we recieve is less than airline pilots/crew/other radiologic techs/people that work outside all day.

Really, I guess the only thing thats bad about radiaton therapy, is that you are more of a worker then a provider.

But, I don't know if the pursuit of becoming a provider is worth massive loads of money and time.
 

Sarah007

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what are the job prospects for radiation therapists? i've looked for positions online but have come up with only a handful of openings.
 

Dusto

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what are the job prospects for radiation therapists? i've looked for positions online but have come up with only a handful of openings.

Right now unfortunatley there are not that many jobs for therapists, but apparently that happens every few years. When I first started this program there were plenty of jobs all over the country, many that paid sign on bonuses and relocation expenses. Lately new grads have been having trouble finding jobs because the market is so saturated. Smaller private clinics that have 1 or 2 machines only need 2-4 therapists to run them and maybe 1 more therapist working in simulation and planning. Rad Therapy programs are very small (10-20 students a year) but in an area dominated by private clinics you could see how jobs disappear quickly. Your best bet is in larger cities and hospital based clinics with 3 or more machines and rotating shifts. The market will open up again though, its only a matter of time.
 

zenman

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I myself plan on pursuing medical school because I want to be the one sailing the ship someday :)

Just name your boat "Consultation" so your office staff won't be lying by saying, "he's on a consultation right now.":thumbup:
 

Wylde

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Couldn't agree more.

The family who owns/operates cleaning company that has the contract to clean my dad's office building live in a $1.5mil house and drive nice cars, does that mean I want to vacuum and clean toilets for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week? %#!& no.

You do realize that that family doesnt "clean toilets"... right?
 

Berkeley82

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i understand what you're saying, but I think you're a little disillusioned. As a Radiation Therapist you do/can (depends on the place) calculate basic algorithms for radiation dosing and then irradiate your patient using linear accelerators and all kind of things. You get to use multi-million dollar machinery and YOU execute the procedures instead of the physician (Radiation Oncologist who makes around 500k instead of 80).
Also, if you're bored because you don't feel you're supplying you have the ability to receive on the job training as a dosimetrist, and then you can get promoted through exame to Certified Medical Dosimetrist. Then Management of Chief Dosimetrist who manages multiple Dosimetrists and often 5 or more radiation therapists. There are only two people above you and you are earning over 100k. Dosimetrist use complicated math formulas to set up treatment schedules that you calculate in such a way that you preserve living, healthy tissue and destroy malignant tissue. Of course a this level (even as a beginning dosimetrist) you have WAY less exposure to patients so it's not as sad. If it doesn't work out for you, just become a dosimetrist and calculate radiation treatments with highest efficacy values. OR move even higher. The Oncologist simply prescribes an amount to a patient, and talks to them about how it's going. The dosimetrist calculates the safest way to execute that much radiation without doing unbecoming harm.

Lastly, if you have a BA/BS in a Physical Science you can WALK on to the hospital and be trained in dosimetry. You can also Go to school for 1-2 Years and get a Master's in Medical Physics and then without 4 years of med school plus up to 7 of residency and a few years in fellowship. You can do almost everything the physician does and just like the physician you can manage the entire department (although that's usually the PhD in Medical Physics). At that rank you do receive the same respect as a physician. You're the one who calibrates and makes his dosages work because most of the time he has no clue how to make them work, or calibrate the machine, or complete very complicated computer/gamma knife/ accelerator executions. I graduated from undergrad in 2002, but moved through that whole period while working. UCLA lets you(if you can get a job) work full time a Med Physicist WHILE getting a PhD. I'm just a Master's Radiation Physics, but I started out as a radiation therapist and if you show promise you have a LOT of responsibility and do quite a bit of dosimetry yourself. There is a certain amount of respect in knowing that a mistake you make could KILL your patient or cause permanent brain/organ damage. (that may explain some of the inflated pay it's a pretty stressful job.
 

triplerox

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Is there a difference between radiation therapist and radiologic technologists? Or are they same job different title?

If they are indeed different, does anyone have any sites that I can perhaps read up on it?
 

Werg

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Lastly, if you have a BA/BS in a Physical Science you can WALK on to the hospital and be trained in dosimetry. You can also Go to school for 1-2 Years and get a Master's in Medical Physics and then without 4 years of med school plus up to 7 of residency and a few years in fellowship. You can do almost everything the physician does and just like the physician you can manage the entire department (although that's usually the PhD in Medical Physics). At that rank you do receive the same respect as a physician. You're the one who calibrates and makes his dosages work because most of the time he has no clue how to make them work, or calibrate the machine, or complete very complicated computer/gamma knife/ accelerator executions. I graduated from undergrad in 2002, but moved through that whole period while working. UCLA lets you(if you can get a job) work full time a Med Physicist WHILE getting a PhD. I'm just a Master's Radiation Physics, but I started out as a radiation therapist and if you show promise you have a LOT of responsibility and do quite a bit of dosimetry yourself. There is a certain amount of respect in knowing that a mistake you make could KILL your patient or cause permanent brain/organ damage. (that may explain some of the inflated pay it's a pretty stressful job.

I'm also a medical physics student (PhD), but I think you got some things slightly wrong.

First off, no one gets a medical physics MS in less than 2 years (at least not from any reasonable program). After you get an MS or a PhD, you have to spend 2 - 3 years as a clinical trainee (resident or "junior" physicist) before you can be certified by the American Board of Radiology (the same board that certifies the radiologists and radiation oncologists). An accredited residency will be required starting in 2014 to take the boards. So minimum you need 4 years for a physical sciences/engineering BS + 2 years for a physics/medical physics MS + 2 years for a medical physics residency = 8 years. If you want to be a chief physicist you probably need a PhD, which usually adds another 3 years to grad school, so about 11 years total (or 7 minimum after college). Also, you will never find a radiation oncology department chaired by a physicist. The physicist might head the Physics division, which makes sense, but that is not the same as being in charge of the clinical department.

Finally, physicists almost never receive the same level of respect as the physicians. Possibly from the people they are in charge of, but rarely from the physicians, and almost never from the administrators, who seem to have a chronic under appreciation of what physicists do in the clinic.
 

Werg

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Is there a difference between radiation therapist and radiologic technologists? Or are they same job different title?

If they are indeed different, does anyone have any sites that I can perhaps read up on it?

They are both rad techs, but therapists have had additional training to qualify them to perform radiation therapy. Most radiation therapists start out as imaging techs.

A lot of people I know have gone the route X-ray tech -> Radiation therapist -> Dosimetrist

https://www.asrt.org/content/abouttheprofession/Who_Are_RTS.aspx
 

triplerox

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They are both rad techs, but therapists have had additional training to qualify them to perform radiation therapy. Most radiation therapists start out as imaging techs.

A lot of people I know have gone the route X-ray tech -> Radiation therapist -> Dosimetrist

https://www.asrt.org/content/abouttheprofession/Who_Are_RTS.aspx

Thanks for the reply. I actually found a program that lets you go directly into radiation therapist as long as you complete the prereqs (no need for x-ray tech). I'm planning on eventually going into dosimetry upon completion. How long does it take before you can actually practice as a dosimetrist (how long is the program for dosimetry?) Also can you work while studying to be dosimetrist as part time radiation therapist?
 

Flyawaybudgi

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I am currently a radiation therapy student. It is true that in some areas therapists are making 80+ a year but it all depends on where you live. In my hometown starting salary is around 70K. At the end of the day (which ends at 430p M-F:) ) it is a great job. Speaking from my own experiance I can say the training can be very intense. Therapists are trained in several different modalities including CT, XRay and Ultrasound. As far as dealing with terminal patients I find it very rewarding. There are many opportunities for therapists also, companies like Varian and Siemens look for former therapists to sell their equipment or you could pursue a little more training (a year or so) and become a dosimetrist 100K+. I completely agree with Farmer Jane in that it is dependent on your personality if you would be happy as a "worker". I myself plan on pursuing medical school because I want to be the one sailing the ship someday :)


Oh and you will not DIE from exposure. Working with live sources is rare, typically the Rad Oncologist, physicists deal with HDR and seeds. The exposure that we recieve is less than airline pilots/crew/other radiologic techs/people that work outside all day.
You were a rt student back then, how are things now in terms of career satifisfaction, salary and starting salary?
 
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