Online College Degrees in Medical Dosimetry: Program Overviews

Medical dosimetry involves calculating and measuring radioactive treatments for cancer patients that meet the physician's requirements and ensure that radiation levels remain acceptable. Although no medical dosimetry program is totally online, this article looks at master's degree programs that offer some online courses.

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Essential Information

Online courses in medical dosimetry are rare, and no master's degree program in this field can be offered entirely online, due to the clinical experience requirements. However, students may be able to take many courses online and complete the clinical requirements onsite.

There are two types of master's degree programs in medical dosimetry. Individuals who have at least six months of experience working as medical dosimetrists can enroll in master's completion programs. Programs for students with no dosimetry experience have a more extensive clinical component.

Graduates of Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry degree programs have two paths to certification. Those who completed 12- to 18-month programs accredited by the Joint Review Board on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) can take the exam offered by the Medical Dosimetrists Certification Board if they acquire six months of clinical experience before the exam application deadline. Programs of 18 months or longer meet the exam qualifications without the additional clinical experience requirement. Once certified, dosimetrists must complete a certain number of approved continuing education credits in order to maintain certification.


Online Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry Overview

Students in the online Master of Science in Medical Dosimetry program develop deeper theoretical and practical knowledge of radioactive medicine. Entry into either a full or completion dosimetry master's program online requires students to have an existing bachelor's degree in a related field, such as radiologic technology, radiation therapy or physics. For the completion program, students must be certified medical dosimetrists, while the full master's program is open to radiation therapists. The master's completion program can be completed in under two years; the full master's takes 2 to 3 years. Both programs emphasize advanced coursework and research, clinical experiences and completion of a professional portfolio.

Courses are delivered online synchronously - at a designated time - through a classroom management system that offers class discussion forums and other interactive learning methods. Streaming video may also be used to deliver lectures. Because of this, students need a computer with high-speed Internet access.

List of Common Dosimetry Courses

The courses may vary depending on whether the student is in the full degree program or the degree completion program, but some courses are included in both. The curriculum combines online coursework with on-site fieldwork. Students may be able to complete the fieldwork at their workplace or at a site designated by the college.

Professional Issues in Medical Dosimetry Course

Students are introduced to the field of medical dosimetry. Topics include practice standards as well as ethical and legal issues. This course is offered in both the full degree program and the completion program.

Dosimetry Research Methods Course

This course is for students in either program to learn the standards and principles for conducting research in the health sciences field. Students develop a research topic and prepare an original document for professional review.

Anatomy in Medical Dosimetry Course

This class examines how the patient's course of treatment is determined by anatomical function and structure. Students learn to identify parts of anatomy on CT scans, MRI images and radiographs. This course can be taken in either the completion or full degree program.

Career Information for Graduates

According to August 2010 data from Payscale.com, dosimetrists earn an average salary between $73,706 and $101,437 per year. The American Association of Medical Dosimetrists projects strong career growth in the field, due to advances in treatment planning that require an increase in skilled dosimetrists (www.medicaldosimetry.org). Graduates of full master's programs can seek entry-level clinical positions in dosimetry, while graduates of completion programs can seek leadership roles in health care administration or education, as well as in clinical practice.

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