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Online Coursework in Radiation Therapy: Course Descriptions

Online radiation therapy courses are available at a number of colleges and universities as part of undergraduate certificate and degree programs in the field.

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Online Radiation Therapy Courses

Although curricula differ, the following course topics are commonly offered through online radiation therapy programs.

  • Radiation Therapy: One of the first courses radiation therapy students take is a basic introduction to the career field. The course is usually structured as an overview of radiation therapy, covering its theory, principles, practices and policies.
  • Cross-Sectional Anatomy: This course instructs students in sectional anatomy using diagrams, CRT and MRI images. Online students learn to identify anatomy by viewing these 2-dimensional anatomic cross sections.
  • Pathology: Students learn about diseases and injuries and how they may be treated with radiation therapy. Both cancer and non-malignant diseases are examined.
  • Oncology: Students are instructed in the detection, causes, diagnosis and classification of cancers in this online course. The spread and management of cancer may also be discussed.
  • Medical Terminology: This course educates students in the usage and meanings of medical terminology, particularly such terms that radiation therapists are likely to encounter. Course topics typically include word roots, prefixes and suffixes.
  • Radiation Therapy Physics: A student in an online radiation therapy program will take several courses related to physics. Students learn the fundamental measurements, principles, atomic structures and types of radiation, including their absorption rates.
  • Dose Calculation: This course introduces the methods and principles used to calculate the treatment times when administering radiation therapy. This subject is also a specialty profession for radiation therapists.
  • Treatment Planning: In this online course, students learn about the variety of radiation therapy treatment techniques and how to prepare patients for each. Patient positioning, contouring and immobilization are covered.
  • Ethics: In this course, students examine the ethical responsibilities of heath care workers, with an emphasis on the practice of radiation therapy. Coursework includes legislation governing healthcare, current research, and the relationships between patients and healthcare providers. Students explore and discuss the intersection of moral and professional standards in the administration of care.
  • Quality Assurance: An online quality assurance in radiation therapy course discusses the various instruments used in the field and their techniques. The focus of the course is on the consistency of these techniques, and how to promote and develop procedures that match or enhance the highest level of consistency possible.
  • Anatomy and Physiology: In an online anatomy and physiology course, students study the human body and the functions of various body parts and systems, including the immune, nervous and skeletal systems. The relationships between these systems and their involvement in homeostasis is also discussed.

Program Information

Courses in online radiation therapy programs may be entirely remote, but on-site clinical education for hands-on practice with radiology equipment is typically required in order to complete certificate or degree programs. Online radiation therapy programs may be completed in about one year for a certificate and less than two years for an associate's degree. Certificate and bachelor's degree programs usually require prior graduation from an accredited radiologic technology program. Online students typically use a Web-based course platform and communicate with instructors via email.

Students should seek to enroll in online radiation therapy programs offered through schools that have been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). This will ensure that they are being trained to pass the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam to become registered radiation therapists.

Online learning in radiation therapy is readily available and can culminate in a certificate or degree, usually when combined with some on-site clinical training. Course topics that can be completed online include oncology, pathology, anatomy, and dosage control.

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