Search
Calculate a Career in Medical Dosimetry

Calculate a Career in Medical Dosimetry

Precision is the professional credo of medical dosimetrists, a little-known but growing group of healthcare workers who calculate radiation doses and develop complex treatment plans to destroy patients' cancerous tumors.

"We really have to limit our mistakes to none," says Mark Reid, senior dosimetrist at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont, and president of the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD). "The consequences of what we do can have a huge impact on the patient in the long run."

Medical dosimetry is still in its infancy, Reid says, and there are only a few thousand dosimetrists in the US. However, more, earlier cancer diagnoses mean demand is growing for all professionals involved in providing radiation therapy, including dosimetrists.

Delicate Balancing Act

Reid spends his days generating radiation treatment plans via computer and reviewing patient cases with radiation oncologists, oncology nurses, medical physicists and radiation therapists. Once or twice a week, he accompanies patients to CT diagnostic scans, which serve as the basis for his calculations and dose distributions. Because he makes frequent patient contact, Reid says he "can't be just a physics nerd. You need some sensibilities about what is going on with patients. You use a lot of different skills to do your job."

Dosimetrists craft their treatment plans using sophisticated 3-D computers that enable them to give higher doses of radiation to a tumor and lower doses to sensitive structures nearby. One of the job's trickiest aspects is maintaining the delicate balance between delivering the radiation dose prescribed by the oncologist while ensuring healthy organs aren't affected, says Juan Peña, senior medical dosimetrist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Another challenge of the job is accepting that there is no "magic bullet" for curing cancer patients, Peña says. "We sometimes have to acknowledge the limits of the profession," he explains. "Despite our advanced medical technologies, we are limited in what we have available and what we can do."

Body of Knowledge

Like most medical dosimetrists, Peña started his career as a radiation therapist, aka radiation therapy technologist. He was recruited and trained for the dosimetry job by a medical physicist at his facility. Medical dosimetrists who do not start out as radiation therapists may be graduates of one of the handful of one- to two-year dosimetry programs across the country. Another way to enter the profession is by earning a bachelor's degree in physics and completing extensive on-the-job training.

Dosimetrists must be critical thinkers capable of working with mathematical formulas, according to Peña. They must also be willing to learn new technologies. "This field is constantly evolving," he says. "We are always getting new types of treatment modalities."

Dosimetrists must also have knowledge of anatomy, physiology and oncology, Reid says. "You need to know the natural history of tumors -- where and how they spread -- and how that will influence the treatment plan," he explains.

Although the field requires a considerable amount of specialized knowledge, medical dosimetrists do not have to be licensed or certified. However, Congress is currently considering an AAMD-supported bill that would set minimum educational requirements for those in the radiation-therapy professions, including medical dosimetry. In the meantime, many medical dosimetrists voluntarily become certified through the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board.

Strong Outlook

The demand for medical dosimetrists grows every time a new cancer center opens, Reid says, making dosimetry a stable, well-compensated career. Medical dosimetrists earn average annual salaries of $79,500, according to a 2004 AAMD salary survey.

However, the few medical-dosimetry education programs in the US graduate only 12 to 15 students a year, while 78 to 80 new dosimetry positions become available in the country annually, Reid notes. The AAMD is encouraging more universities to offer dosimetry degrees, he explains, but it's a hard sell, because the number of students who enroll is often too small to justify the resources necessary to run a program. "It's a real daunting task to try to increase the number of trained dosimetrists," he says.

Latest Jobs

Kforce Inc
Posted: 10/25/2014
Wshington, DC, 20006
Social Hire Incorporated
Posted: 10/25/2014
Richmond, IL, 60071
ARMI, Inc.
Posted: 10/25/2014
Lonoke County, AR, 72023
Buckeye Promotions Group
Posted: 10/25/2014
Columbus, OH, 43215
Buckeye Promotions Group
Posted: 10/25/2014
Columbus, OH, 43215

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.65.72-323
eTrustLogo