Radiation Therapy Technology Certificate - Additional Information

General Information

The radiation therapist plays an integral role in a cancer patient’s care by delivering highly customized treatments as prescribed by a radiation oncologist. The radiation therapist must be familiar with every aspect of the radiation therapy equipment; exercise constant care and accuracy when delivering the radiation treatments; ensure radiation safety of patient and coworkers; and, demonstrate patience, understanding, empathy, and compassion for the patient at all times. Rapidly changing cancer treatment techniques, technological advances, and personal patient contact make the field of radiation therapy a dynamic career choice.

The Radiation Therapy program at Chattanooga State is a 3-semester program and full-time status is required.  Students begin coursework in the fall and graduate the following summer with technical certificate in Radiation Therapy.

The program is accredited by the Joint review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology, 20 North Wacker Dr, Suite 2850, Chicago, Illinois 60606-3182. The program is reviewed for compliance with the educational standards. 

The current accreditation award for the program is 8 years.

Individuals successfully completing the Chattanooga State Radiation Therapy program are eligible to apply for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. 

The goal of all Chattanooga State health programs is to prepare practitioners who can function in the health care arena to ensure the safety of patients. Program standards are in place to assure that students have the potential to perform as entry-level practitioners. Acceptance into a health program is contingent upon the student's demonstrated ability to meet these standards.

Courses of Study

Education of the radiation therapist is an integrated plan of classroom, laboratory, and clinical education components. The program’s courses of study include, but are not limited to:

Basic Clinical Dosimetry
Clinical Oncology (study of tumors)
Human Structure and Function
Introduction to Computers
Medical Ethics and Law
Methods of Patient Care
Medical Terminology
Radiobiology (to include hyperthermia)
Radiation Physics (to include Quality Assurance)
Radiographic Imaging
Technical Radiation Oncology (study of tumor treatments)

Faculty

The courses are taught by radiation therapists, radiation oncologists, radiation physicists, dosimetrists, oncology nurses and others qualified to teach the designated subjects.

Clinical Obligations

Clinical assignments, totaling 40 hours one week and 22 hours the alternating week, are required.

Clinical Placement

The goal of the program is to place accepted students in clinical affiliates near their hometowns. However, based on the program’s approved clinical affiliate listing, it is not always possible. Students must understand that if they accept a position in the program, they may be asked to commute in excess of one hour (one direction) to their clinical site OR relocate to an area near an approved clinical site.  Additionally, students may not receive monetary compensation for clinical assignments.

Approved Clinical Affiliates:

Facility City State
Alice and Carl Kirkland Cancer Center Jackson TN
Alliance Cancer Care - Clearview Cancer Institute Huntsville AL
Barren River Cancer Center Glasgow KY
Blount Memorial Hospital Maryville TN
Bristol Regional Medical Center Bristol TN
Cleveland Regional Cancer Center Cleveland TN
Cookeville Regional Cancer Center Crossville TN
Cumberland Med Center Regional Cancer Center Crossville TN
East Alabama Cancer Center Opelika AL
Erlanger Medical Center Chattanooga TN
Gadsden Regional Cancer Center Gadsden AL
Greenville Hospital System-Seneca Office Seneca GA
Hamilton Medical Center Dalton GA
Holston Valley Medical Center Kingsport TN
Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital Cancer Treatment Center  Somerset KY
Mahr Cancer Center Madisonville KY
Maury Regional Medical Center Columbia TN
Medical Center at Bowling Green Bowling Green TN
Memorial Hospital Chattanooga TN
Montgomery Cancer Center Montgomery AL
Northside Hospital Atlanta GA
St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Murfreesboro TN
St. Vincent's Bruno Cancer Center Birmingham AL
Thompson Cancer Survival Center Knoxville TN
Thompson Cancer Survival Center - Methodist Oak Ridge TN
Thompson Cancer Survival Center – Parkwest Knoxville TN
UT Medical Center Knoxville TN

Essential Functions/Technical Standards

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, students must be, with reasonable accommodation, physically and mentally capable of performing the essential functions of the Radiation Therapy program.  These functions include: 

Motor Skills:  Defined as sufficient gross & fine movement abilities to provide safe and effective radiation therapy patient care

  • Perform radiation therapy tasks for 8 hour assignments
  • Stand, walk, and/or sit for up to 2 hours without a break
  • Walk, lift, carry, pull, push, reach, crawl, kneel, and/or climb using proper body mechanics
  • Propel wheelchairs and/or stretchers alone or with assistance, as available
  • Move, adjust, and position patients or equipment which could involve bending, stooping to the floor, reaching overhead, lifting, pulling or pushing up to 250 pounds
  • Work with and observe a patient above a standard examination height of 36 inches above floor level
  • Demonstrate adequate speed, agility, coordination and balance to safely assist patients onto simulation and treatment tables
  • Palpate anatomical structures for precise patient positioning without causing injury to the patient
  • Perform simulation and radiation therapy procedures without injury to self or patients
  • Handle and utilize procedural items such as contrast media, vials, syringes, sterile items, catheters, dressings, etc. properly
  • Grasp small objects safely
  • Demonstrate bi-manual dexterity sufficient to manipulate equipment used in radiation therapy such as adjusting dials with one hand while moving a treatment device with the other
  • Manipulate machine controls—turning dials, pushing buttons, flipping thumbwheels
  • Utilize radiation therapy equipment and accessories safely
  • Provide basic life support services and emergency care, as needed

 Sensory Skills: Defined as sufficient auditory, visual, and tactile ability to monitor and assess patient needs

  • Respond to warning lights, alarms, and calls for help
  • Use visual, auditory, and tactile senses to observe patients and collect/interpret data
  • Recognize and interpret facial expressions and body language
  • Identify patterns of movement and discriminate color changes
  • Function visually in low/dim lighting
  • Read and set parameters on radiation therapy equipment
  • Read pertinent materials, medical records, physician’s orders, equipment specifications for patient care
  • Listen to and respond to soft voice, auditory timers, emergency alarms (when not in direct line of sight)
  • Use devices for measurement of vital signs and breath or heart sounds
  • Perform physical patient assessment by palpating a pulse, detecting changes in skin texture/temperature

 Communication Skills:  Defined as the ability to communicate in English using verbal, non-verbal and written formats

  • Communicate effectively, in English, with faculty, other students, patients, families and health care professionals
  • Demonstrate proper use of medical terminology, grammar, spelling and punctuation in classroom, lab and clinical environments
  • Display active listening skills
  • Recognize, interpret, and respond to non-verbal behavior
  • Record thoughts legibly and clearly for written assignments or medical notations

 Interpersonal Skills:  Defined as the ability to work well with faculty, clinical staff, medical professionals, patients/families, and fellow students in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings

  • Recognize and respond appropriately to individuals of all ages, genders, races, religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds
  • Work collaboratively with others regardless of age, gender, race, religious or social background
  • Respond appropriately to stress of heavy workloads, deadlines, demanding patients and stressful clinical situations
  • Display maturity, emotional stability and sensitivity in academic, clinical, and professional settings
  • Demonstrate ability to set priorities, concentrate on assigned duties, and perform all aspects of radiation therapy in a fast paced, highly stimulating environment

 Critical Thinking/Intellectual Skills: Defined as the ability to collect, interpret and integrate information to make logical decisions and evaluate outcomes

  • Comprehend, analyze, and apply relevant information from lecture, clinical experience, professional literature, and/or medical records
  • Identify cause-effect relationships in health care—with a focus on cancer care
  • Understand and ensure radiation safety for self, patients, and others
  • Demonstrate comfort with computer operation
  • Perform basic testing, maintenance, troubleshooting on radiation therapy equipment
  • Know when and how to apply universal precautions (mask, gown, goggles, gloves)
  • Assess and monitor patient for clinical progress and/or complications and demonstrate knowledge of when to consult the physician
  • Respond calmly and effectively to emergencies
  • Meet progression criteria for successful program completion

 Professionalism: Defined as the ability to demonstrate moral and ethical behaviors representative of the career

  • Abide by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists Code of Ethics for Radiation Therapists which includes advancing the profession to serve humanity, providing patient care without bias, acting in the best interest of the patient, working within the scope of practice, and engaging in lifelong learning
  • Demonstrate respect for self, patients, fellow students, faculty, administration and other health care professionals
  • Demonstrate a work ethic consistent with professional standards
  • Maintain personal hygiene and professional appearance

Policies for Class Attendance

Attendance: 
To be successful in the Radiation Therapy program, regular attendance is mandatory.  Excessive absenteeism is not tolerated and can result in a final course grade reduction and/or program dismissal.

Grading Scale: 
The program adheres to the grading scale established by the college:
A 100-90
B 89-80
C 79-70
D 69-65
F 64-below

Program Progression

For purposes of program progression, the following criteria apply:

In the didactic setting, an average of 75% or better is require in each program course.
In the clinical setting, students must:

  • achieve a score of 85% on each technical competency (treatment, simulation, or dosimetry)
  • achieve a semester average of 85% on monthly evaluations
  • submit ALL required documentation

Any student who does not meet the didactic/clinical progression criteria will be dismissed from the program.

Any student who is missing didactic and/or clinical work due to pre-approved/excused reasons may be given a grade of Incomplete (I).  A grade of I converts to a grade of F if the work is not completed within the first two weeks of the following semester.  This results in the student being dismissed from the program.  (A grade of I is treated as an F when computing grade point average.)

Re-entrance and Termination

A student who does not meet the progression criteria will be allowed to re-apply and be given consideration for re-admission the following year.

 A student may re-enter the program on the following conditions:

  •  His/her acceptance will not exceed the approved program/clinical capacity for the given year.
  • The student was not previously dismissed from the program for flagrantly violating clinical affiliate, program, division, or college policies.
  • The student has not missed more than one month of the program and the didactic education and clinical hours can be made up.
  • He/she was in good academic standing before leaving the program.

Re-admitted students who do not meet the progression criteria for a second time will be permanently terminated from the program. 

Additional Program Requirements and Expectations

CPR Certification

The Radiation Therapy Technology program requires students to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Students are NOT allowed to enter the clinical setting without proper CPR documentation.

Criminal Background Checks

Following acceptance and prior to entering the clinical environment, each student must undergo a criminal background check in order to comply with policies of clinical affiliates. It will be the student’s responsibility to comply with instructions provided upon acceptance and submit results by a designated date. The background check will be at the expense of the student. Students who do not meet the requirement in a timely manner or whose background check does not meet agency standards will not be able to successfully complete the program. Additionally, criminal background results that do not meet agency standards may also preclude licensure and/or employment. Individuals who have questions should contact the program director.

Drug Screening

Chattanooga State is a drug free environment as are clinical affiliates.  Students are expected to abide by the policies of both the college and their assigned clinical affiliate.  To ensure the safety of clinical clients, students will be asked to submit to a urine drug screen prior to beginning their clinical training.

Liability Insurance

All students must purchase liability insurance through Chattanooga State prior to entering the clinical setting.  This policy will cover the student for the program year.  

Eligibility for ARRT Certification

Individuals who have been convicted of a crime, other than minor traffic violations, could be ineligible for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), even after successfully completing a Radiation Therapy program. Those with questions should file a pre-application with the ARRT in order to obtain a ruling.

Hotel Accommodations

You may wish to look online at www.travelocity.com for hotel rates. Presently, the closest hotels to the campus are: Holiday Inn Express, Hixson, TN, (423) 877-8388 and Hampton Inn in Hixson, TN, (423) 877-3100. Though Chattanooga State has no contracts with area hotels for special rates, traditionally, when our students explain that they will be staying on a consistent basis throughout the year, promotional rates have been provided.