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  • Medical Dosimetry

    Contact:  mdprogram@uwlax.edu

    The medical dosimetrist is a member of the radiation oncology team that plays a role in the management of cancer. Medical Dosimetry allows professionals to utilize their knowledge of mathematics, medical physics, science, and critical thinking in his/her everyday work. Medical Dosimetrists specialize in the planning of optimal radiation treatment techniques and dose calculations in collaboration with the medical physicist and radiation oncologist.

    According to the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD), the professional organization, the medical dosimetry profession is described as:

    After the Radiation Oncologist has consulted with the patient on their plan of treatment, he/she will write a prescription of radiation dose to a defined tumor volume. The medical dosimetrist will then design a treatment plan by means of computer and/or manual computation to determine a treatment field technique that will deliver that prescribed radiation dose. When designing that plan, also taken into consideration are the dose-limiting structures. These structures could include the eye when treating the brain, the heart when treating the lung, or the spinal cord when it is included in the area of treatment.

    The medical dosimetrist maintains a delicate balance between delivering the prescription the physician has written while ensuring the patient will not lose important healthy organ function. In many institutions, the medical dosimetrist also has the ability to execute planning for intracavitary and interstitial brachytherapy procedures.

    Following the planning process, the patient will have a simulation for tumor localization to ensure reproducibility of treatment set up and plan delivery. Here, it may be necessary to produce moulds, casts, and other immobilization devices for accurate treatment delivery. A medical dosimetrist may supervise, perform, or assist in this process. The medical dosimetrist will then work with the radiation therapists in the implementation of the patient treatment plans including: the correct application of immobilization devices, beam modification devices, approved field arrangements, and other treatment variables.

    The advancements in computer technology place us at the forefront of many new processes. Using imaging modalities such as CT scans, alone or in combination with MRI or PET scans, we plan with 3-D computers that enable us to give higher doses of radiation to a tumor while lowering the doses to the sensitive structures around it. In some environments we play a part in cutting edge clinical research for the development and implementation of new techniques in cancer treatment. It is an exciting and amazing profession to work in. We are members of a team that contributes toward cancer survivorship on a daily basis.

    In summation, the medical dosimetrist performs calculations for the accurate delivery of the Radiation Oncologist's prescribed dose, documents pertinent information in the patient record, and verifies the mathematical accuracy of all calculations using a system established by the Medical Physicist. We perform, or assist in, the application of specific methods of radiation measurement including ion chamber, thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLD), or film measurement as directed by the Medical Physicist. Another area that we may contribute to is giving technical and physics support to the Medical Physicist; this support could be in radiation protection, qualitative machine calibrations, and quality assurance of the radiation oncology equipment. Also, we often take on the role of educator in facilities that have radiation oncology residents, radiation therapy students or medical dosimetry students.

    Skills Needed

    Dosimetrists:

    • possess an understanding of the technical aspects of radiation oncology and medical physics to derive computerized treatment plans.  They communicate these aspects to the Radiation Oncologist for plan approval and to the Radiation Therapist for plan implementation.
    • are able to perform routine duties independent of supervision, consulting with the Radiation Oncologist and Medical Physicist as required.
    • operate and perform quality assurance on the treatment planning system , under the direction of the Medical Physicist.
    • have a working knowledge of radiation safety in addition to the current rules and regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • are able to interpret and execute treatment plans as defined in relevant treatment protocols.
    • possess mathematical skills including algebra, trigonometry, and introductory calculus and are able to visualize objects in three-dimensional concepts to facilitate the treatment planning process.
    • are experienced and comfortable with computer operations and functions.
    • are at ease with having close patient contact while working in a health career field.

    Career Outlook

    The future job market for Medical Dosimetry is strong.  The advances in treatment planning increase the demand for qualified medical dosimetrists.  Wages are comparable with other healthcare professions.  Given the diversity and ever changing technology of the job, lifelong career satisfaction is achievable.

    Certification

    After successful completion of the medical dosimetry program and six months of work experience, students are eligible to apply to take the medical dosimetry certification exam.  The exam is held in various locations throughout the United States every year in June.  The Medical Dosimetry Certification Board (MDCB) is the credentialing body for the certification exam.

    The University is accredited at the institutional level by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Additionally, the UWL- Medical Dosimetry program is accredited by a discipline-specific, professional accreditation organization - the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

    The program completed the most recent accreditation site visit in July of 2011 and received an 8 year accreditation, with no citations. This is the maximum accreditation awarded by the JRCERT. The interim report is due in 2015 and a re-accreditation is due in 2019.

    For more information regarding accreditation of medical dosimetry programs, please visit JRCERT.

    JRCERT
    20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 2850
    Chicago, IL 60606-3182
    Phone: (312) 704-5300
    Fax: (312) 704-5304

    What does an accredited program mean to a prospective student?             

    • The profession is assured, through programmatic accreditation, that educational programs in the field are providing consistent minimum education in the profession as the profession itself has defined it.
    • Through the process of programmatic accreditation, educators are assured that their educational programs are keeping pace with the profession and with standards developed through national consensus.
    • Accreditation of educational programs assures patients that students who perform procedures have appropriate supervision during the educational process. It also assures them that graduates will have met the minimum level of competency as defined nationally by the profession.
    • Accreditation of an educational program provides students, as graduates, assurance that the educational program will provide them with the requisite knowledge, skills, and values to competently perform the range of professional responsibilities expected by potential employers nationwide. It also assures they will be eligible for licensure in each of the 50 states. By requiring programs to teach the entire curriculum developed by the professional society, the American Society of Radiologic Technology, it also assures students they will have the foundation knowledge to continue to develop as professionals in the various fields of the radiation sciences.                

    (www.jrcert.org, 2008)

    Education

    The Medical Dosimetry Program offers a Master’s Degree program that provide students with an educational foundation in medical dosimetry as well as clinical experience in a radiation oncology department. The curriculum requires online courses taken synchronously with a clinical internship at an affiliated site.  Admission to the program is on a competitive basis.

    Mission

    The Medical Dosimetry Program at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is committed to the education of medical dosimetrists who are knowledgeable, competent, and dedicated to their profession and their patients.

    Goals & Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

    1. Students will demonstrate entry level competence.
      1. SLO: Students will design acceptable radiotherapy plans for patient treatments.
      2. SLO: Students will construct anatomical contours correctly.
    2. Students will use critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary to practice in current and emerging technology.
      1. SLO: Students will differentiate among multiple plan configurations for a specific patient treatment.
      2. SLO: Students will evaluate dose volume histograms.
    3. Students will demonstrate proficiency in verbal and written communication skills.
      1. SLO: Students will demonstrate effective verbal communication skills.
      2. SLO: Students will practice effective written communication skills.
    4. Students will develop and exhibit professional practices.
      1. SLO: Students will demonstrate professionalism in the clinical setting.
      2. SLO: Students will support life-long practices for continued professional growth.
    5. Graduate students will demonstrate research skills needed to approach medical dosimetry practice with scholarly rigor.
      1. SLO: Students will demonstrate research skills in scholarly assignments.
    6. The program will be successful in meeting the educational needs of its students and graduates’ employers will be satisfied with their preparation.
      1. SLO: Students will complete all graduation requirements.
      2. SLO: Students will pass the national certification exam.
      3. SLO: Graduates will obtain employment within 12 months of graduation.
      4. SLO: Employers will exhibit satisfaction with the graduates' performance.
    7. The program will graduate students prepared for the clinical environment.
      1. SLO: Graduates will exhibit preparedness from their clinical experience.

     

    Semester I (Fall)

    DOS 411

    Advanced Imaging for Medical Dosimetrists

    1 cr

    DOS 412

    Simulation for Medical Dosimetrists

    1 cr

    DOS 413

    Anatomy for Medical Dosimetrists

    1 cr

    DOS 414

    Physics Fundamentals for Medical Dosimetrists

    3 cr

    DOS 415

    Computers & Networking in Radiation Oncology

    1 cr

    DOS 416

    Radiation Safety in Radiation Oncology

    1 cr

    Semester II (Spring)

    DOS 422

    Radiation Dose Calculations

    2 cr

    DOS 423

    Treatment Planning

    3 cr

    DOS 425

    Brachytherapy for Medical Dosimetrists

    2 cr

    Semester III (Summer)

    DOS 431

    Clinical Oncology for Medical Dosimetrists

    3 cr

    DOS 421

    Professionalism & Mentoring in Medical Dosimetry

    1 cr

    Semester IV (Fall)

    DOS 441

    Radiobiology for Medical Dosimetrists

    1 cr

    DOS 442

    Dosimetric Quality Assurance

    1 cr

    DOS 443

    Seminar in Medical Dosimetry

    1 cr

    22 credits total

     

    The class beginning Fall 2014 is the program’s final Track 2 OJT class.  The program will cease admitting Track 2 OJT students following the start of the Fall 2014 term.

    Track 2 is the "on the job training" (OJT) option.  These applicants are currently working in medical dosimetry at their place of employment and seeking to take courses at UW-L in preparation for the MDCB exam.  There is no formal affiliation agreement between UW-L and the institution, however, there is a Clinical Site Support Form to be completed.  Track 2 students are considered Route 2 or 3 exam applicants by the MDCB. Students have the option of returning to UW-L in the future to complete the Master’s Degree Completion program - Track C.  They will be required to have obtained a baccalaureate degree prior to applying as well as certification as a medical dosimetrist.


    **Only current "on the job training" (OJT) medical dosimetrists, working for an employer can enroll in this track.

    ** A minimum of 35 hours of training per week is required.  Note: MDCB eligibility requires this FULL TIME training.

    Admission policies and the application/selection process have been developed with the intention to consider each applicant's strengths and select for admission those best qualified to meet the program's requirements and mission.

    Application requirements:

    • Online application:
      Submit a completed UW System application online
      Instructions for completing online application
    • Official transcripts:
      Submit official transcripts for all college coursework attempted to UW-L Admissions
    • Program application and fee:
      Submit a completed Track 2 program application
    • Current ARRT certification:
      Submit proof of current ARRT certification
    • Letters of recommendation:
      Submit four letters of recommendation using the program’s required recommendation form.  Letters must be received in a signed envelope with the reference’s signature across the seal.
    • Current on-the-job training (OJT):
      Documentation of current on-the-job training in medical dosimetry.  A signed letter from the administrator/manager stating the specific job description and number of work hours per week demonstrates proof.  A minimum of 35 hours per week is required.
    • Clinical Site Support Form:
      Submit a completed copy of the clinical site support form

     

    Tuition for 2014-15 is $400 per credit.  The approximate tuition cost for the program is $8,800.  The tuition costs are the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.  Refund of tuition upon withdrawal depends on the timing of withdrawal.

    • Textbook costs will fluctuate based on the required textbooks each year.  (Textbook costs were approximately $600.00 last year).  These costs are dependent on whether you already own some of these textbooks and/or whether you purchase new or used textbooks. Students are advised to purchase textbooks online.
    • There are additional fees for items such as web-based software use (~$100 per semester).
    • Students are required to have access to a scanner for submission of certain coursework material and a headphone/microphone headset for certain live chat sessions.
    • Living expenses are the responsibility of the student.
    • Please contact Financial Aid for assistance with questions regarding financial aid.

    Program Director:  Nishele Lenards

    Clinical Education Coordinator:  Anne Marie Vann

    Medical Advisor:  Patrick Conway

    Physics Advisor:  John Wochos