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Medical Dosimetrist - How to Become a Medical Dosimetrist

What Is Dosimetry?

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What is a medical dosimetrist and how do you become a dosimetrist? A dosimetrist is part of the radiation oncology team, which helps to treat cancer patients via radiation therapy.

Dosimetrists typically work in a hospital or cancer center. They must be able to work well as part of a medical team, consulting with a number of professionals including physicians (radiation oncologists), radiation therapists, oncology nurses, and medical physicists.

Requirements To Become a Dosimetrist:
According to the Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board (MDCB), dosimetrists must pass the medical dosimetrist certification exam in order to earn distinction as a CMD (Certified Medical Dosimetrist). The MDCB describes in detail on its website three ways one can become eligible to take the certification exam to become a dosimetrist.

One way to become eligible if you are already an actively registered radiation therapist. You can then complete 24 months of clinical medical dosimetry experience supervised by a "certified medical dosimetrist or medical physicist or radiation oncologist."

Another path to eligibility for a certification in dosimetry is to obtain an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in ANY subject, then obtain 36 months (3 years) of clinical dosimetry experience supervised by a qualified professional as stated above. This path to eligibility will be eliminated in 2013, however, according to the certification board's website.

A third path to eligibility for the certification exam is to complete a 12-month accredited education program in medical dosimetry, plus 6 months of supervised clinical experience in dosimetry.

Job Responsibilities and Required Skills for Dosimetrists:
According to the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD), the medical dosimetrist is responsible for the "radiation dose distributions and dose calculations" used in radiation therapy, which is typically a daily regimen over the course of several weeks, depending on the type and location of the patient's cancer. Dosimetrists must have thorough knowledge in the areas of cancer treatment and brachytherapy. The dosimetrist helps prescribe the radiation in precise doses necessary to treat the cancer without harming healthy tissue and organs near the tumor. Designing the treatment plan for the cancer patient is a key responsibility of the dosimetrist.

Dosimetrists must be critical thinkers, and be able to analyze data and implement a course of therapy based on the data, such as images and measurements. Dosimetrists must have strong math skills, as they perform calculations as well as verify the accuracy of calculations in determining the course of treatment to deliver the precise dosage of radiation to the pinpoint location of the tumor.

Additionally, dosimetrists must have strong technical skills, as they are often responsible for ensuring the calibrations and functionality of medical equipment used in radation therapy, including an ion chamber, or thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLD), according to the AAMD website.

How Much Do Dosimetrists Earn?
According to Payscale.com, the salary range for dosimetrists with 1-4 years of experience spans from about $62,000 to $84,000 annually. With additional experience, salaries can reach over $100,000 annually.

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