What to expect from a career as a Medical Radiation Technologist or Radiation Therapist

Radiation technologists and radiation therapists work as part of a large and highly important health care team. Whether you help diagnose patients through taking images or you treat patients using radiation, you’ll find careers in this field to be very rewarding. Radiation programs at Ontario colleges equip students with the technical knowledge and hands-on experience needed to enter the specialized medical field of radiation.

If you want to help diagnose medical conditions and care for patients by providing radiation treatment, here’s what you need to know.

Radiation Courses

Ontario college radiation programs have different focus areas, but usually fall into one of these categories:

  • Medical Radiation Technology. Medical radiation programs build fundamental skills in radiation imaging, teaching students to accurately capture and analyze images of the human body to assist physicians in offering diagnoses. Students will learn radiological protocol, image processing techniques, image management and quality control.
  • Radiation Therapy. These programs teach students to create and administer radiation treatment plans for patients with cancer and other diseases. On top of learning to operate equipment and position patients properly, students learn radiation dosage in relation to targeting and destroying cancerous cells. Theory and lab course subjects include oncology, patient care and protection, imaging, treatment planning and more.

In addition to the many hands-on courses in these programs, students will sharpen their skills and apply what they’ve learned in clinical placements.

Related to radiation programs are nuclear medicine programs. Nuclear science involves using gamma ray-emitting radiopharmaceuticals as a means of collecting imaging documents, in place of diagnostic imaging or surgery.

General Radiation Program Requirements

Medical radiation technology programs typically require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, which includes a grade 12 English credit. Additional requirements will vary, but will likely include assorted senior science and math credits.

Radiation therapy program requirements vary; some programs require an OSSD with six grade 12 U or M courses (mainly math and science credits), while others require a minimum of one year of university education, including math and science credits.

Radiation Jobs and Salaries

In order to work in Ontario, graduates must register with the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario after successfully taking the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists exam. Radiation professionals who gain this accreditation can find employment in a number of medical venues, from hospitals and clinics to private radiology practices, research facilities and more. 

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