Medical Dosimetry Schools: How to Choose

Medical dosimetrists are members of the radiation oncology team who are knowledgeable about radiation techniques and dosing procedures. They often work with cancer patients. There are a select number of accredited certificate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in this field of study.

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Medical Dosimetry Schools: How to Choose

The Medical Dosimetry Certification Board (MDCB) recognizes two tracks to becoming a medical dosimetrist: on-the-job training or a formal medical dosimetry educational program. Educational programs specific to medical dosimetry are relatively few in number and small in size, with many admitting fewer than ten students each year. If a medical dosimetry program isn't accessible, students can substitute related programs, such as allied health sciences. The program's relevance to medical dosimetry can be confirmed by checking for accreditation by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). The program should incorporate the same classes as a dosimetry program, including anatomy, chemistry and mathematics. Most programs are offered by 4-year schools, but some certificate programs can be found at 2-year schools.

Factors to Consider

  • Accreditation
  • Hands-on opportunities

Accreditation

The JRCERT accredits all levels of programs - from certificates to master's degrees - and lists them on its website. Without a degree from a JRCERT-certified program, graduates will not be eligible to take the MDCB exam, a credential that many employers desire.

Hands-on Opportunities

Medical dosimetrists will need to be familiar with the technical aspects of the job, including computerized dosing programs and advanced radiation equipment. Students should make sure their program of interest offers hands-on experience with both.

Medical Dosimetry Program Overviews

Dosimetry Certificate Programs

Most certificate programs last 12 months. These programs usually require that students already possess a bachelor's degree in radiation therapy or a related field. Some programs require that students be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists in radiation therapy and have one year of relevant work experience. An additional six months of clinical experience is required for graduates of these programs to be able to sit for the MDCB exam. Program coursework includes:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Computer science
  • Calculus and trigonometry
  • Chemistry
  • Medical terminology

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Students who earn a bachelor's degree are eligible to take the MDCB exam immediately upon graduation. Most of these programs require time spent in a clinical setting in addition to coursework. While the courses vary depending on the program, common topics include:

  • Radiation biology
  • Radiation therapy physics
  • Oncology pathology
  • Topographic anatomy

Master's Degree Programs

Most schools with master's programs offer different tracks depending on the student's interest. Some programs offer tracks for students who have already passed the MDCB exam, while other schools give students the choice of pursuing professional or research-based tracks. Many programs incorporate courses in planning or leadership for those interested in management positions. Students work at clinical sites and take classes in:

  • Simulation for medical dosimetry
  • Treatment planning
  • Research methodology
  • Clinical oncology for medical dosimetrists
  • Radiation safety
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