Radiation therapy is a complex form of treatment. It takes many professionals and support personnel to provide you with good care. You will see some of the individuals each day you come into the department for your treatment, while you may never see some other individuals because they work "behind the scenes" helping the department to work safely and smoothly.
The Radiation Oncology department is staffed by many individuals working together to provide you with the best care possible.
- Radiation Oncologists and Resident Physicians
- Radiation Oncology Nurses and Nurse Aides
- Radiation Therapists
- Medical Physicists
- Social Workers
- Database Personnel
- Billing Office Personnel
- Clerical Personnel
- Radiation Oncology Support Personnel
Your physician in the Radiation Oncology department is called a Radiation Oncologist. He or she is a specialist in cancer treatment with radiation. The Radiation Oncologist is responsible for planning your care and prescribing your treatment. You will see your Radiation Oncologist on your first visit to the Radiation Oncology department and during the planning stages of your treatment. Once your daily treatments begin, you will be scheduled to see your Radiation Oncologist at least once a week. During your weekly checks, your Radiation Oncologist will monitor your progress.
Working along with the Radiation Oncologist is a Resident Physician. He or she has completed 4 years of medical school and 1 year of internship, and is specializing in the field of Radiation Oncology. You will also meet your Resident Physician on your first visit as well as see him or her during your weekly visits. The residents rotate among the different Radiation Oncologists every 3 months as part of their training.
The Radiation Oncology Nurses are registered nurses who work closely with the Radiation Oncologist and other staff to coordinate your care. Nurse Aides are specially trained medical personnel who work with you and your Nurse throughout your treatment. You will have one primary Nurse working with you during all phases of your treatment. Your primary Nurse will provide you with oral and written information concerning your diagnosis, treatment and self-care measures to manage potential side effects of treatment. In addition, your Nurse and Nurse Aide will be available for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your treatment and its side effects both during and after completion of your treatment. If necessary, your Nurse may refer you to the Social Worker, Dietitian or a community agency.
Your daily treatment will be prescribed by your Radiation Oncologist and will be given by Registered Radiation Therapists. The Therapists have all received special training in the operation of Linear Accelerators used to deliver Radiation Therapy. The Therapists are also responsible for scheduling your treatment appointments. If you have any questions regarding your treatment or need a different appointment time, the Therapists will assist you.
Working along with the Radiation Therapists are students training to become registered Radiation Therapists.
Dosimetrists are responsible for assisting the Radiation Oncologist in planning your treatment through the use of computers, CAT scans, special X-ray films and body measurements. The Radiation Oncologist gives the Dosimetrist guidelines for the dose to be delivered. The Dosimetrist then works within these guidelines to optimize the size, shape and arrangement of the area that will receive the dose of radiation. The goal of the Dosimetrist is to design a combination of fields which adequately treats the area of disease while avoiding areas of sensitive normal tissues. The Dosimetrist also calculates the dose being delivered to your body and assists the Medical Physicist in quality assurance.
Medical Physicists are specialists in the measurement and delivery of radiation. They are responsible for the overall safety and accuracy of the treatment machines as well as for the computers used to calculate your treatments. The Medical Physicist may be called in to assist the Radiation Oncologists or Therapists with additional measurements regarding your treatment. The Medical Physicist also checks your treatment record weekly while you are under treatment to make sure it is accurate.
You may not have much interaction with the Dosimetrist and Medical Physicist, but they are integral members of the Radiation Oncology department.
The Social Worker's job entails answering questions about transportation, housing and community resources, such as the American Cancer Society and the Social Security Administration. In addition, the Social Worker can help you with stress, depression, anxiety or any other issue that may be making it difficult for you to get through treatment. You can stop by the office in the clinic area anytime.
Data collection is an important tool in the treatment of cancer. The database staff includes several people who manage the wealth of patient data collected in all the hospitals in the Radiation Oncology network, including U-M, McLaren, Allegiance, Providence and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. These data are then analyzed for quality assurance and to answer research questions.
The Database Administrator's job includes designing and developing electronic databases used to store patient data and retrieving the data for review, analysis and quality assurance.
The Central Database Manager and Database Clerk enter patient visit data into the database. These data include diagnosis, disease status, therapy plan and demographic information.
The Breast and Prostate Data Managers help to enter and maintain information regarding these most common types of cancer. They collect data from electronic databases, patient charts and data forms.
Three Clinical Trial Protocol Managers work closely with doctors, nurses, dosimetrists, radiation therapists and protocol sponsors to ensure that the data collected in complete and accurate. The Protocol Managers interact with patients to help determine eligibility for clinical trials, enroll patients on trials, and submit Institutional Review Board for Human Subject Research (IRBMED) applications.
The Outreach Database Coordinator oversees the Radiation Oncology protocols at affiliate hospitals. This includes patient enrollment, data collection, data management and data entry. This Coordinator also submits regulatory documents to all affiliate Institutional Review Board (IRB) offices. The Outreach Coordinator has help from a part-time protocol manager at Ingham Hospital who enrolls protocol patients and does IRB submissions.
The Database Coordinator's job involves overseeing all aspects of the database staff. This includes revising databases, data quality review, Institutional Review Board submissions, data entry and retrieval, personnel changes, work distribution, supervising affiliate hospital work flow, and coordinating with department groups and agencies outside Radiation Oncology.
A member of the Billing Office is available to discuss your insurance benefits relating to radiation therapy and answer any questions you may have relating to balances for which you are responsible.
Our Clerical staff is here to greet you and assist you with your scheduling needs. The Clerks obtain your medical records and prepare the paperwork for your clinic visits. All clinic and treatment planning appointments are scheduled by the Clerks. They will provide you with all the necessary information that you need for your scheduled appointments.
The Clerks also can direct you to the proper people to obtain information on parking, housing or billing questions.
Other individuals who play a role in your care, but who you may not be aware of, are the Radiation Oncology support staff. The Administrators, Receptionists and Secretaries all help to ensure the smooth operation of the department, so that when you arrive for treatment, your Radiation Oncologist, the Nurses and Therapists can concentrate directly on your care.