Jefferson Health

A Team Approach to Radiation Therapy

A multidisciplinary team of experts will be involved in your radiation therapy every step of the way, from consultation to radiation therapy simulation to radiation therapy treatment to survivorship.

Radiation Oncologist

Radiation oncologists are the physicians who oversee a patient's radiation treatment. These physicians work closely with the medical oncologists and surgeons who are involved in your care. The radiation oncologist will also work with the Medical Physics staff in the Radiation Oncology Department to develop a treatment plan to deliver the optimal dose to your tumor, while minimizing the radiation dose to your healthy tissue.

The radiation oncologist monitors your progress during radiation treatment through weekly on-treatment visits. During your treatment, residents who are training in radiation oncology work with the attending physicians to provide each and every patient with high-quality care.

You will continue to follow up with your radiation oncologist to monitor your response to treatment and identify any side effects that occur after your treatment is complete.

Nurse Practitioner

In our Department, a nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has completed specific, advanced nursing education and training in the diagnosis and management of all cancer types. Nurse practitioners often meet patients at consultation, manage symptoms while patients are on treatment and continue to see patients during follow-up appointments. Nurse practitioners may see patients independently or in collaboration with the radiation oncologist.

The nurse practitioner is able to perform a history and physical, evaluate treatment response and manage treatment-related side effects. Nurse practitioners may order and interpret radiology studies and laboratory tests as well as prescribe medications. The quality of life assessment is an important part of the nurse practitioner's role at follow-up, along with providing information and support about survivorship issues to patients.

Registered Nurses

The registered nurses in our Department are highly trained oncology nurses who assist and educate patients about their disease, psychosocial issues and available coping resources. Our nursing staff uses a multidisciplinary approach to ensure patients move through the radiation therapy treatment process smoothly, from diagnosis to radiation therapy simulation to radiation therapy treatment to survivorship.

The registered nurses also are available to answer questions about your condition and work closely with your nurse practitioner and your radiation oncologist.

Radiation Therapist

Our radiation therapists (or radiation therapy technologist) are board certified and experienced in administering radiation therapy treatments to patients with and without cancer. The therapist is responsible for implementing treatment procedures prescribed by the radiation oncologist. The therapist is concerned with many aspects of your therapy experience.

On a daily basis, they manage the many necessary details that assist you through your cancer treatment in our Department. The therapist continually monitors each patient for physical, emotional and psychological stress that might occur during his/her course of treatment.

In addition, the therapist performs quality checks on the complex computer and treatment units to make sure you are treated with superior accuracy.

Dosimetrist

A dosimetrist works with the radiation oncologist to design the best treatment plan for delivering the radiation dose. Each treatment plan consists of the angles and energies of a number of beams entering the body, the amount of weight given to each beam and the blocking that spares normal tissues while treating your tumor. Each patient receives a unique treatment plan. Because of its complexity, treatment planning may take hours to days to complete and is a constant, interactive process with your physician.

Our dosimetrists work with your radiation oncologist to generate a treatment plan that delivers the maximum amount of radiation to your tumor, while sparing normal tissues. Advanced computer systems are used to design your treatment plan. A dosimetrist may be present while you are receiving treatment to make sure you are set up in the correct position.

Medical Physicist

A medical physicist is responsible for the quality assurance of a radiation therapy department. They ensure the physician's treatment goals are met through review of the treatment plans and quality checks of computational, networking and delivery systems. They also verify all radiation doses are delivered and documented correctly.

Our medical physicists test new devices, calibrate equipment and implement new leading-edge procedures. Most of the work performed by the medical physicist is done behind the scenes.

Oncology Social Workers

Oncology social workers are licensed clinicians available to provide counseling and other services, which can reduce stress for you and your family through all phases of your cancer. Oncology social workers offer individual, couple and family counseling to cope with illness adjustment issues, stress management, end-of-life issues and anxiety/depression.

They also assist with resource information and financial needs (including home health care, medical equipment, social security, prescription assistance and transportation). Additionally, a wide range of support and education programs are offered to help patients and families throughout their cancer journeys.

Engineers

Radiation therapy engineers repair and maintain the advanced equipment used in our Department. This equipment includes the treatment machines, the therapy simulators, X-ray and CT systems as well as a variety of other machines and devices that are needed during your course of radiation treatment.

Our engineers strive to make sure our equipment works correctly in order to assure your radiation treatments stay on-track and are not disrupted.

Computer Staff

Computer staff members maintain and repair the computers that pass treatment data between our electronic medical record and the treatment machines. They are also responsible for maintaining the computers used to create treatment plans as well as all other clinical systems that are needed to make sure you are cared for in the best way possible.

Medical Secretaries

In radiation oncology, the medical secretaries schedule patients. When a patient needs pre-certification for a test or study, the medical secretary will obtain it and assist him/her with scheduling the appointment.

The medical secretaries are also available to answer questions patients and/or their family members may have about finding their way around Jefferson, support services and resources and what to bring prior to the patient's appointment. Additionally, they help the radiation oncologists communicate with physicians and staff in other practices.

Front Desk Staff

In our Department, the front desk staff members strive to provide patients with superior customer service. They help patients check in and check out during their appointment day. They are available to answer questions from patients and/or their family members and can schedule follow-up appointments.