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What Does a Therapeutic Radiographer Do?

A therapeutic radiographer might operate a linear accelerator for cancer treatment.
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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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The responsibilities of a therapeutic radiographer, also known as a radiotherapy radiographer and a therapy radiographer, involve the operation of radiotherapy equipment to treat patients with various forms of cancer. Therapeutic radiography is mostly used as a primary treatment for malignant tumors, and a therapeutic radiographer needs good people skills when dealing with patients over a sometimes lengthy course of treatment. Planning and delivery of radiotherapy to patients who are dealing with cancer can be a complex process requiring great accuracy. Therapeutic radiographers may also work with many other types of medical staff, health care personnel and various other professionals every day.

A big part of a therapeutic radiographer's everyday duties involves interacting with patients and their family members. Being able to deal with patients of all ages who may be apprehensive or frightened is one of the most basic functions in this job. Radiotherapy treatments are typically administered daily for several weeks, so a therapeutic radiographer must be ready to help patients cope throughout the entire course of treatment. Observing and evaluating a patient's response to treatments and responding appropriately is important.

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Planning and delivery of radiotherapy to patients who are dealing with cancer or non-malignant disorders requires a great deal of accuracy and care. The area to be treated must be mapped and proper radiation doses must be calculated in order to minimize the total dose administered to surrounding tissue. Doses must also be accurately monitored over the entire course of treatment. The ability to operate highly technical equipment responsibly, confidently and within safe margins is a big part of this job. A therapeutic radiographer must also sets up post-treatment reviews and schedules follow-up consultations with appropriate physicians or other medical personnel.

Working closely with other staff members, medical personnel and physicians is a fundamental duty of a therapeutic radiographer. As part of their daily duties, radiographers may need to interact with nurses, hospital staff, consultants, doctors and a variety of other health care professionals. Scheduling, monitoring, and directing the work of other student radiographers and radiography assistants is also a part of this job. Other duties may include working closely with dietitians to advise patients on proper diet while undergoing treatments or consulting with engineers in troubleshooting and maintaining radiography equipment.

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