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What do Radiation Therapists do?
- treat cancer and other disease by administering radiation treatments.
- simulate patients for accurate treatment planning.
- work with other radiation therapists, radiation oncologists, physicists, dosimetrists, and oncology nurses.
- work in hospitals or cancer clinics, usually Monday – Friday with regular hours.
The following ASRT video captures the role of the radiation therapist and other members of the team in the radiation treatment process: An Introduction to Radiation Therapy – YouTube.
This ASRT video explains the treatment planning process and treatment delivery.
Why choose Virginia Western’s Radiation Oncology Program?
Our program is nationally accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). The Virginia Western Radiation Oncology Program is very successful in terms of pass rates and job placement for over 17 years. Faculty is vested in our students and provides one-on-one instruction and hands-on experience. We have graduates at Sloan-Kettering, UVA, Duke University, Carilion Cancer Center, HCA Lewis-Gale (Salem) and Lewis-Gale (Pulaski) Cancer Centers, Alan B. Pearson Cancer Center, The Durango Cancer Center in Colorado, Johns Hopkins, MD Anderson, INOVA, Valley Health, Novant, Sibley, The Huntsman at the University of Utah, Provision Proton Center in Knoxville, Hampton University Proton Institute, and more.
What sets Virginia Western’s program above other radiation oncology programs?
Our program is equipped with a Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training (VERT) system that creates a life-size, 3D setting for students to enhance their understanding of radiation therapy planning concepts. This cutting-edge technology allows students to position virtual patients and equipment and visualize radiation beams passing through the body. From illustration of theoretical concepts through to acquisition of clinical skills in a safe, non-pressured environment, VERT delivers tremendous benefits for students, increasing their skills and confidence. VWCC is one of 50 colleges in the nation which has this system.
What are the admission guidelines of the program?
Applicants must meet the general admission requirements for the college. Applicant must hold a high school diploma or GED. Cumulative grade point average (GPA) must be ≥ 2.5. We base this on the GPA calculated at the most recent institution/college at which you completed at least 12 college credit hours. If you have not taken 12 college credit hours at one college by the end of Fall 2023, the high school GPA must be ≥ 2.5.
What are the course prerequisites for the program?
Applicants must complete the prerequisites listed below with a grade of “C” or higher by the end of the Spring 2024 semester to be considered for the 2024 program:
- One unit of high school or college lab science (biology, chemistry, or physics) Note: The BIO 141 course cannot be used to fulfill the lab science requirement and the BIO 141 prerequisite.
- BIO 141 Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
- HLT 141 Introduction to Medical Terminology (1 credit)
- MTH 161 Pre-Calculus I (3 credits)
- SDV 101 Orientation to Health Professions (2 credits)
A high school deficiency in a mathematics course may be satisfied by completing an equivalent or higher-level college course. Sciences must have a lab component.
Is admission to the program very competitive? Are there admission priorities?
The Radiation Oncology Program is very competitive with a limited number of students accepted each year at both the VWCC and NOVA campuses. Admissions decisions are based upon: (1) academic record and GPA, (2) strength in sciences and math, (3) interview results based on interviews conducted by program faculty, and (4) two letters of recommendation. Additional consideration is given to those that hold healthcare credentials (licensure/certification).
What if I graduated high school from a foreign country and cannot obtain my official transcripts?
Please complete this form (PDF) and return to HPAAO.
Who makes the admission decisions? When are the results given to the applicants?
Admission decisions are made by a Radiation Oncology Admissions Committee. Admission decisions are emailed to the applicants as soon as possible, usually in mid-May.
Why is the Radiation Oncology program considered intense?
The curriculum has a heavy emphasis on mathematics, physics, general and radiation sciences; as well as clinical sessions which demand technical and lecture application skills. All courses within the AAS in Radiation Oncology must be passed with a grade of “C” or above. Satisfactory progress is necessary for eligibility to take licensure examinations.
Can the program be taken at night or on a part-time basis?
The program is only offered during the day due to the hours of operation of the clinical facilities and labs involved in the program. It is strongly recommended that students limit working hours if admitted into the program. The (ROC) part of the curriculum must be completed in the sequence outlined, if admitted.
Is there a waiting list? Are there classes I can take before entering the program?
There is not a waiting list. All applicants who meet the deadline and are minimally qualified will be considered for the program. The Radiation Oncology program is intensive, so some applicants elect to complete general support classes such as English Composition, Ethics and Developmental Psychology while they are being considered (grades must be a “C” or better). It should be understood that these general education or support courses are not the same as required prerequisites (addressed in a previous question). Interested students are encouraged to work with one of the pre-radiography advisors (Perdue) or reach out to one of the team members for the HPAAO (Terry or Woody) to see if taking support classes is feasible based on their individual circumstances (taking in consideration whether they are students part-time, full-time, financial circumstances, holding a job, etc.) keeping in mind this is a restricted program and only 12 students are accepted once a year.
What would the impact be on program completion, for a person who does not have the COVID-19 vaccination?
Virginia Western Community College faculty and students must comply with the policies required by clinical facilities with which we have legal agreements. If a student refuses to comply with a clinical facility immunization and vaccination requirement, Virginia Western Community College will attempt, but cannot guarantee, to assign a student to an alternative clinical facility. A student will be placed in an alternative location only if it meets the educational objectives of Virginia Western Community College and program requirements for clinical placement. Faculty also must be available to appropriately supervise students at the clinical facility. Refusal to comply with a clinical facility immunization and vaccination requirement by a student in our health programs may impede your progress in the program or your ability to remain in the program.
Who are the advisors for the radiation oncology program? When and how do I contact them?
Pam Woody is one of the academic file processors for Health Professions. An advising form will be sent to you using the Dynamic Form platform where the application for the program was completed. This letter will give you important details about your prerequisites, career support classes, transfer of credit, etc. Please note that if you do not receive the two page Advising Letter, there could be missing documents in your academic file and you may not be considered for admission to the fall program. If you need to verify receipt of your submitted materials, and it has been five weeks since the submission, you may contact Ms. Brown at email@example.com to verify receipt of all academic transcripts on your behalf. This is another reason that we encourage early application so you have time to submit all necessary academic transcripts and the two letters of recommendation. In addition, there are other advisors for Health Professions, Ms. Rhonda Perdue (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a team of advisors that can be reached at email@example.com can assist with career planning and course advising as well.
Specific questions about the Northern Virginia joint venture program classroom, clinical sites, and schedule should be directed to the Director (Mrs. Conner), whom you may reach at 540-857-6104 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the Site Coordinator at Northern Virginia Community College, Ms Cropper at email@example.com. Questions about the application process for NVCC should be directed to VWCC Advisors (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why are some support classes within the AAS Radiation Oncology not covered by Financial Aid (FA) in the CSC: Introduction to Radiation Oncology?
The CSC: Introduction to Radiation Oncology consist of specific coursework that is designed to allow applicants to the Radiation Oncology program to complete some of the courses required within the AAS and to also offer a job skill option to applicants in case of non-admittance to the program. Not all prerequisite and support classes are included in the CSC. The BIO 142 is not included in the CSC and the course options offer PSY 230 (SOC 200/PSY 200) OR PHI 220. If you are using FA to cover the cost of classes, FA will not cover the cost of both PSY 230 and PHI 220 nor will it cover cost of the BIO 142 course. If you wish to complete those courses prior to entry, you need to plan to pay for those courses out of pocket. If you are accepted into the AAS Radiation Oncology program, at that time, FA will then cover those courses. The plan change for accepted students, to be placed into the AAS program from the CSC, typically occurs in late May or early June for the accepted students effective with the fall semester.
What is the job skill option in the CSC: Introduction to Radiation Oncology?
It allows applicants who may not be accepted into the AAS Radiation Oncology Therapist program, to academically prepare students to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification exam, if the EMS 111/120 course sequence is completed. Also, if you have a healthcare licensure/certification (such as CCMA, CNA, Phlebotomist, etc,) if you submit a copy of your current license to the Health Professions Advising and Applications Office, we can complete paperwork on your behalf to determine if Credit for Prior Learning can be awarded for one of the options under the job skill portion of the CSC: Introduction to Radiation Oncology.
What is the tentative schedule for Radiation Oncology classes, if accepted?
Incoming freshman students will attend classes during the first semester. Classes will be offered via Canvas, Zoom, and in the classroom.
Beginning second semester students attend clinicals on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-4:30 PM, and ROC classes on Wednesdays.
Summer semester is clinical for forty hours per week, 5 days a week. The final two semesters, students attend clinicals on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and attend classes on Thursdays. Final semester, classroom is Tuesdays and Thursdays and clinicals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Do I have to pass a licensing test to practice as a radiation therapist?
Only radiation therapy professionals who have complete the appropriate education and obtained certification(s) as outlined in these standards should perform radiation therapy procedures. Radiation therapists prepare for their roles on the interdisciplinary team by successfully completing a program in radiation therapy that is programmatically accredited or part of an institution that is regionally accredited and by attaining appropriate primary certification from the ARRT. Those passing the AART radiation therapy examination use the credentials R.T. (T).
What is the policy regarding non-discrimination?
Applicants for admission to the Radiation Oncology program are considered for class positions based on their ability to meet the program admission standards, without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, or other non-merit factors.