Radiation Therapy (R-T)
College of Science and Health
Department of Health Professions
4094 Health Science Center,
Radiation therapists are health care professionals skilled in the art and science of medical radiation treatment delivery. The majority of patients receiving radiation therapy have cancer. Along with surgery and chemotherapy, radiation therapy offers these patients the best chance to succeed in the fight against their disease. The major focus areas of the profession are the care and assessment of patients, simulation, planning and delivery of treatments utilizing linear accelerator produced radiation and radio-isotopes. Aims of care include cure, relief of symptoms, and improvement of patients’ quality of life. High technology equipment and innovative treatment methods are utilized to maximize treatment effectiveness. Radiation therapists must have excellent technical skills, but must also be empathetic and effective communicators. Much satisfaction is gained from close patient interaction and the specialty’s team approach with radiation oncologists, physicists, nurses and other medical specialists. Radiation therapy is “technology with a human touch.”
The major in radiation therapy provides students with an educational foundation in the sciences and humanities as well as clinical experience in a radiation therapy department. The curriculum requires six semesters on campus in pre-professional and professional core courses prior to the senior clinical internship. The clinical internship begins in July of the senior year, extends for 13 months and is spent at an affiliated clinical internship site. When students have met all requirements of the major and the university, they are eligible for graduation and to apply to take the national certification exam.
UW-L, in cooperation with its clinical internship sites, currently provides the only training and baccalaureate degree program in radiation therapy in the State of Wisconsin. The radiation therapy program at UW-L is designed to offer a high quality radiation therapy curriculum rich in academic and clinical experiences. During the clinical internship, students will work directly with registered radiation therapists in direct patient care in busy and highly regarded radiation oncology departments. The program also seeks to foster, in its students, the professional development, problem solving and leadership skills needed for current and future health care environments.
Radiation Therapy Program Mission
The mission of the radiation therapy program at UW-L is to educate and train radiation therapists who are knowledgeable, technically competent and dedicated to their profession and their patients, while meeting the educational and personal needs of its students by emphasizing excellence in education and offering a broad based curriculum in liberal studies, professional courses and clinical internship. This program additionally seeks to promote research and provide a base for further professional development of graduates.
Radiation Therapy Major
(Science and Health) — 118 total credits including internship
Pre-professional requirements (44 credits): BIO 105*, 312 and 313; CHM 103*, 104; CS 101*; MTH 151**; PHY 125* or PHY 103* and 104; MTH 145*; PSY 100* or SOC 110* or SOC 120*; ECO 110* or 120*.
Professional core requirements (30 credits): BIO 306, 432,
433; CST 354; HP 250; PHY 386; RT 310, 320, 325, 350, 390.
(Satisfies SAH core requirements.)
Clinical internship requirements (44 credits): RT 401, 411, 412, 421, 431, 435, 437, 471, 472, 473, 474, 481.
Recommended electives - HP106; MGT 398; PHL 339; SOC 420, 422; R-T 499
Note: Retention of good standing in the program requires that students maintain a grade of “C” or higher in all required courses.
*This course will also fulfill General Education
requirements. May substitute BIO 103 for BIO 105.
**Students whose math placement exam places them in MTH 207 (Calculus I) are not required to take MTH 151, but are required to take MTH 145.
Student Admission and Application
Admission to the program is on a competitive basis. The number of students admitted to the major is dependent on the number of clinical internship sites and their student capacity. Class sizes are approximately 20. Admission to the major is on a competitive basis. Applications are available at the health professions department office or on the program’s Web site; www.uwlax.edu/rt.
- Students are advised to apply for admission to the professional program early in the spring prior to desired admission, after having taken or registered for the pre-professional requirements. (Deadline late January)
- Applicants are advised to have a major portion of their general education requirements met by the time of application as well.
- Applicants are required to have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale and a grade of “C” or higher in all required courses.
- Applicants are required to successfully complete 40 hours of observation in a radiation therapy department. Students are encouraged to plan to visit during summer, semester and spring break times. Some sites may require that the student have had a set of immunizations prior to the visit to comply with hospital policy.
- Applicants are considered without regard to sex, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital or parental status.
- Applications must be submitted in full by late January deadline to the health professions office.
A selection committee will be appointed to review all completed applications, interview all qualified candidates and make selection decisions. The committee carefully considers each applicant, looking at academic performance, personal characteristics and experiences that predict success in the field.
Acceptance is effective at the beginning of the junior year conditional upon successful completion of courses in progress at the time of notification of acceptance. Selection is also conditional upon students’ compliance with state laws for caregivers including submission to a criminal background check. Students take the professional core courses in La Crosse.
Students who successfully meet program requirements in the professional core courses will interview with the clinical internship sites and upon selection by one of the sites will be placed for the clinical internship. While student preferences in internship site are taken into account, students cannot be guaranteed that they will be assigned in accordance with their choices of clinical site.
Radiation Therapy Affiliated Clinical Internship Sites
- University of Wisconsin Hospital
- University of Chicago Hospital
- Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital
- Gundersen-Lutheran Medical Center
La Crosse, Wis.
- Advocate Lutheran Hospital
Park Ridge, Ill.
The radiation therapy program incorporates a significant amount of writing through the required courses instead of identifying particular courses as writing emphasis courses. Students who complete the RT major will fulfill the university writing emphasis requirement.
RT/HP 310 Cr. 3 Pathophysiology
This course focuses on the pathophysiologic disorders that affect healthy systems across the life span. Theories of disease causation are introduced. Areas of emphasis include cellular and systemic responses, clinical manifestations and the response of tissue to radiation damage. Acquired, immune, infectious, carcinogenic and genetic alterations in body systems are included. Prerequisite: Students must be accepted into the Radiation Therapy program prior to registration for course. (Cross-listed with HP, may only earn credits in RT or HP). Offered Fall.
RT/HED 320 Cr. 3 The U.S. Health Care System
This course provides an overview and a developmental summary of the U.S. health care system and its driving forces and offers comparisons to other national health systems. Content includes major elements of the health care system and a consideration of today’s major health policy issues in a historical, economic, and political context. The course also will explore current issues confronting the health care system, raise important concerns and questions related to the different approaches to health care delivery, and identify key ethical issues. Prerequisite: HED 205 or RT 325, or concurrent enrollment. (Cross-listed with HED, may only earn credit in RT or HED.) Offered Spring.
RT 325 Cr. 2 Radiation Therapy Readings, Writing, and Research
This course introduces radiation therapy students to the language of radiation therapy and professional issues in the field by the use of selected readings. The Radiation Therapy Writing in the Major program will be introduced along with the types of writing practiced in the field. Students will learn basic research techniques and begin to apply them to their professional education. This course is designed to be taken concurrently with RT 310. Prerequisite: acceptance into Radiation Therapy programs. ENG 110, MTH 145. Offered Fall.
RT 350 Cr. 3 Patient Care Issues
This course, taught in modules, will prepare students to work directly with patients in a health care setting. It will cover such topics as: basic concepts of patient care, assessment, examination and monitoring of patients, body mechanics and patient handling skills, infection control, management of medical emergencies and CPR, nutritional counseling, patient education, pharmacology and legal aspects of health care. Prerequisite: BIO 312 and 313, RT 310, and RT 325. While designed for radiation therapy majors, other allied health students may benefit from the course. Offered Spring.
RT 390 Cr. 3 Medical Imaging
This course will serve as a “lab” for the Radiation Physics Course (PHY 386) taught in the previous semester. After learning about the production and measurement of x-rays for diagnosis and treatment, students will focus on imaging aspects. Study of the equipment used to produce x-rays will lead to discussion of machine settings and technical factors involved in producing good quality radiographs. Students will learn about film types, characteristics and development as well as other related equipment. Lab time will be provided in which students will learn by discovery and develop competency through practice. Lect. 2, Lab. 2. Prerequisite: PHY 386 and admission to radiation therapy major. Offered Spring.
RT 401 Cr. 3 Introduction to Radiation Therapy
This course, the first in the clinical internship, will provide the student with an overview of the profession of radiation therapy and its role in health care delivery and cancer management. Students will be oriented to the academic and administrative format of the internship site as well as safety practices of the hospital and radiation therapy department. The radiation therapy process will be identified and discussed along with critical steps in treatment procedures. Students will be prepared for working with patients by learning about charting and documentation as well as appropriate patient/therapist interactions. Prerequisite: RT 310 and 350, acceptance in the major, assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Summer.
RT 411 Cr. 4 Principles and Practice of Radiation Therapy I
This course, taught during the clinical internship year, addresses the concepts of cancer treatment, focusing primarily on radiation therapy. Methods of improving therapeutic advantage are investigated. Students learn safe and effective use of equipment and accessories along with the rationale for their clinical application. Technical aspects of treatment simulation and delivery are developed. Treatment related side effects and their management and special patient situations are addressed. Prerequisite: RT 310, 350, 401, and 471, acceptance in the major, and placement in clinical internship site. Offered Fall.
RT 412 Cr. 4 Principles and Practice of Radiation Therapy II
This course, taught during the clinical internship, advances the student’s knowledge of neoplastic disease management. Cancers and some benign conditions of various body sites are discussed in relation to natural history, treatment and prognosis. Technical aspects related to radiation planning and delivery are closely investigated as well as pertinent anatomical considerations, combination therapy, treatment results and the therapist’s role in disease management. Lect. 3, Lab. 2. Prerequisite: RT 411, 421 and 472, and acceptance in the major, assignment to clinical internship site. Offered Spring.
RT 421 Cr. 3 Cross-Sectional, Topographic and Radiographic Anatomy
This course, taught during the clinical internship, revisits anatomy specifically from an imaging perspective. Students will learn to identify structures and pathology on x-rays, CT and MRI scans and locate topographic landmarks on diagnostic and simulation films. Prerequisite: BIO 313, RT 390 and 401, acceptance in the major, and assignment to clinical internship site. Offered Fall.
RT 431 Cr. 3 Radiation Therapy Physics
This course, taught during the clinical internship, expands the student’s understanding of physics related to radiation therapy. Topics include the components and operation of linear accelerators and other treatment machines, brachytherapy, specification and modification of beam quality and characteristics, measurement of absorbed dose, treatment machine calibration, beam geometry and treatment with particles. Prerequisite: PHY 386 and RT 401, acceptance in the major, and assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Fall.
RT 435 Cr. 3 Dosimetry and Treatment Planning
This course, taught during the clinical internship, focuses on the characteristics, measurement and manipulation of radiation dose delivery in treatment. This involves advanced concepts of methods of altering dose to optimize the effectiveness of the radiation treatment. Treatment planning for a variety of tumor sites and situations is discussed. Prerequisite: RT 411, 421, and 431, acceptance in the major, and assignment to clinical internship site. Offered Spring.
RT 437 Cr. 2 Quality Management in Radiation Therapy
This course, taught during the clinical internship, focuses on the purpose and techniques of quality management in a radiation oncology program. The importance of documentation, consistent application of specified protocols and assessment of outcomes are addressed. The responsibilities of the radiation therapist within the radiation oncology team for quality functions are highlighted. Prerequisite: RT 411 and 431, acceptance in the major, and assignment to clinical internship site. Offered Spring.
RT 471 Cr. 3 Clinical Practicum I
This course, offered the first summer session of the clinical internship, will orient students to the clinical operation of the internship site. Students will observe staff operations in the radiation therapy clinic, simulation, treatment planning, and treatment delivery areas. Prerequisite: RT 310, 350, and 390, acceptance in the major, and assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Summer.
RT 472 Cr. 6 Clinical Practicum II
This course, offered fall semester of the clinical internship, will progress students’ clinical skills from observation in simulation, treatment planning and treatment delivery to the point of participation and development of basic competencies. Prerequisite: RT 401 and 471, acceptance in the major, and assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Fall.
RT 473 Cr. 6 Clinical Practicum III
This course, offered spring semester of the clinical internship, will offer students the opportunity to continue the process of developing competence and confidence in the areas of simulation, treatment planning and treatment delivery. They will demonstrate competence in intermediate and some advanced procedures. Students will also be given opportunity to work in dosimetry. Prerequisite: RT 411, 421, 431, and 472, acceptance in the major, and assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Spring.
RT 474 Cr. 4 Clinical Practicum IV
This course, offered during the final summer session of the clinical internship, will complete the students’ clinical education experience. By the end of this course, students will have developed proficiency and confidence in areas of simulation, treatment planning and treatment delivery. They will complete all required competencies. Opportunities to broaden the experience and work with different equipment, techniques and advanced procedures will be offered. Prerequisite: RT 412, 435, 437, and 473, acceptance in the major, and assignment to a clinical internship site. Offered Summer.
RT 481 Cr. 3 Seminar in Radiation Therapy
The course, offered during the clinical internship, is a capstone course in which students present patient case information, discuss application of radiation science theory, review and critique journal articles and prepare for the national certification exam. Prerequisite: RT 412, 435, and 437, acceptance in the major, and assignment to clinical internship site. Offered Summer.
RT 499 Cr. 1-3 Independent Study in Radiation Therapy
Independent study in radiation therapy may include individual readings and writing, projects, or research under the direction of a radiation therapy instructor. Prerequisite: Admission by consent of the instructor and the radiation therapy program director. Repeatable for credit – maximum six credits. Offered occasionally.