This section describes the concepts of the profession and uses terminology that you must understand.
The laws, regulations and policies regarding MRT are different in each Canadian province or territory.
The concepts, however, are similar. These concepts will help you to understand the responsibilities and daily work experiences of an MRT in Canada.
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Radiation therapists work closely with their peers and alongside a team of other radiation oncology professionals which includes radiation oncologists, treatment planners, physicists and nurses. As part of this inter-disciplinary team, you must consider the condition of the patient, care for the patient and modify the procedure as necessary. You must be detail-oriented and willing to collaborate with other team members for the well-being of the patient. You must have good communication skills with the patients, to gain their cooperation. Your role will include sharing your technical expertise and operating sophisticated equipment in the planning and delivery of radiation therapy treatment.
It is important that medical radiation technologists be self directed learners. This means you must consider your own knowledge and skills, and identify areas where you need more knowledge to practise safely and effectively. You will discuss your work with colleagues, equipment vendors and any other stakeholders associated with the practice of medical radiation technology. You must evaluate your practice to decide if further learning is required.
As a medical radiation technologist, it is important to use self reflection to judge your own competency for safe and effective practice in this rapidly changing technological healthcare environment.
Medical radiation technology provides patients with diagnostic imaging and therapy treatment services. The role of the medical radiation technologist (MRT) is to:
Patient-centered care is the foundation of the medical radiation technologist’s practice. The MRT performs all procedures and treatments using current safety standards, and manages any risk to the patient. The MRT respects the patient’s right to privacy, confidentiality, and informed decision making for diagnostic and treatment services. The MRT works for the patient and respects the patient’s right to refuse or withdraw from treatment.
To be an evidence-based practitioner, a radiation therapist must make decisions which incorporate the individual circumstances of the patient, the experiences of the radiation therapist (clinical reasoning), research findings and expert opinion. The radiation therapist uses evidence-based research to modify their practice, in collaboration with the radiation oncology team, to ensure the patient receives the highest quality care.
The workload, in a hospital facility or clinic, is often very busy with a long wait list of patients. It is important that you manage the workload and prioritize, or decide the order in which the tasks must be completed, based on the patient condition and quality care concerns. Depending on your discipline, many MRTs must work evenings and weekends in stressful clinical environments. It is important that you balance professional and family responsibilities and leisure time, as well.
Usually, a medical radiation technologist is not responsible for obtaining consent for diagnostic tests and radiation treatment. Other health care providers do this. However, you may need to ask for patient consent to perform some procedures such as the injection of contrast media. Health care facilities will have established rules or procedures to follow. When consent is required from individuals, the MRT must give a clear description of the risks and benefits. MRTs should always ask permission to touch the patient during the procedures. MRTs must understand that the patient can refuse diagnostic tests and treatment. The patient may refuse to continue treatment at any time.
Medical radiation technologists learn personal information about the patient and their families. The MRT must keep this information secure and private, as well as any information in the patient’s record. Information should only be shared as part of standard therapeutic information sharing with the healthcare team in appropriate environments, or where required by law. Information cannot be shared with family and friends. It is important to know the privacy legislation within your province/territory. It is also important to understand the regulation set by the regulatory body in the province/territory where you are working.
Radiation therapists in Canada primarily work in either a hospital or cancer clinic setting. Most clinic settings include both radiation therapy and chemotherapy departments and some may also have an inpatient ward. Within a radiation therapy department, radiation therapists can work in a variety of settings with a variety of tasks. These may include:
Canadian radiation therapists work with people of all ages. Some patients will have religious, political and personal values that are different from your own. It is very important that radiation therapists engage in an ethical and culturally sensitive manner with all patients. Radiation therapy patients can range in age from infants to patients well into their 90’s. It is likely that the majority of the patients you see will be between 40 and 85 years old. The general condition of your patients may vary significantly. You may interact with patients that appear well; you may also see patients who are very sick and patients who have been hospitalized as a result of their disease. All patients must be treated with respect, in a caring manner that maintains their dignity and privacy.
Medical radiation technologists have a very important role in patient care. As healthcare professionals, they provide accurate diagnostic testing and radiation treatment. They also provide information to other health care colleagues. This makes a significant contribution to the ongoing care and treatment of the patient. You must have current knowledge and skills to practise medical radiation technology. The safe and effective delivery of health care services to your patients and your community is your responsibility.
In addition to their clinical practice, many medical radiation technologists in Canada help to build their profession. They teach and mentor students, develop policy, participate on committees both at a national and provincial/territorial level and participate in research. They speak at public meetings and participate in career days at schools and colleges. You may be expected to contribute to your profession in this way.
This Health Canada website offers much information about healthcare in Canada: Health Canada