New grant program helps create radiation therapy programs

October 12, 2005

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists' Education and Research Foundation will award four one-time program development grants to colleges, universities or medical institutions in the United States interested in opening radiation therapy programs. Each radiation therapy development program grant is $12,500, for a total of $50,000.

Radiation therapists are highly skilled members of the cancer management team who accurately record, interpret and administer radiation therapy treatments prescribed by radiation oncologists for the healthcare of cancer patients. Radiation therapists have contact with patients throughout the treatment course, educating them about treatment procedures and potential radiation side effects. Monitoring and observing each patient's clinical progress and emotional needs also are part of the radiation therapist's daily routine.

Currently, there are 71 accredited educational programs in the U.S. for radiation therapy, down from 125 programs a decade ago, according to the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology. Thirteen states have no radiation therapy program so that interested individuals must relocate to study the discipline. Recent ASRT research shows that 52 percent of the programs currently open are at full capacity. The ASRT information also shows that radiation therapy programs turned away nearly 450 qualified applicants in 2002 due to lack of space. This new ASTRO/ASRT grant program will help pave the way for the establishment of new radiation therapy programs.

"ASTRO is excited about the launch of this new program which will help train the radiation therapists of tomorrow. Significant shortages in the field of radiation therapy exist in the United States right now and it will only increase in the coming years if we don't do something to reverse the problem. I truly believe this grant program is a step in the right direction," said John J. Kresl, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncologist at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix as well as Chair of ASTRO's Workforce Committee.

For more information on ASTRO's awards and grants, visit http://www.astro.org/about_astro/awards/. To learn more about the radiation therapy treatment team, visit http://www.rtanswers.org/treatment/oncology_team.htm.
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ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

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