The medical dosimetrist is the professional who designs the treatment plan for the delivery of radiation treatments, calculating with mathematical accuracy, according to the radiation oncologist’s prescribed course. There are many aspects that must be taken into consideration including tumor pathology, tumor volume, as well as structures around the tumor with could limit dosing. Sophisticated computer equipment and technology is used to construct the treatment plan and the radiation field-placement techniques that will be utilized in each procedure. The radiation oncologist, medical physicist and the medical dosimetrist work to construct a treatment plan that will meet the oncologist’s prescription, while making sure that the patient will not lose healthy organ function and to ensure delivery of radiation so as not to affect healthy surrounding tissue. These treatment plans include the use of radiation but also involve the use of radioactive elements during interstitial brachytherapy procedures. When the treatment plan is complete the dosimetrist will work closely with the radiation therapists for implementation of treatment plan prescribed.
An exceptional knowledge base of the following is required for the dosimetrist:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Tumor pathology
- Radiation dose calculations and terminology
- Computer applications and technology
- Dosimetry techniques and procedures
- The dosimetrist may sometimes assist or provide technical or physics support to the medical physicist involving assistance in equipment calibrations, radiation protection measures , and performance of radiation quality assurance and management practices.
Skills of the Medical Dosimetrist:
- Perform routine duties without supervision, consulting with other team members when necessary.
- Possess an understanding of the technical aspects of medical physics and radiation oncology to derive computerized treatment plans and communicate these aspects to team for approval and implementation.
- Under the direction of the Medical Physicist, the dosimetrist will operate and perform quality assurance on the treatment planning systems.
- Maintain a working knowledge of radiation safety and current rules and regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Ability to interpret and execute treatment plans as defined in treatment protocols.
- Mathematical skills including algebra, trigonometry and calculus as well as the ability to visualize objects in 3-d for treatment planning purposes.
- Efficiency in computer and technology operations and functions.
- The Medical Dosimetrist Certification Board (MDCB) will require a Bachelor’s Degree in order to sit for their exam by the year 2017.