Medical Dosimetry — Certificate (B.S. in Physics Track, Radiation Therapist Track)

Program director
Carol A. Davis

The Medical Dosimetry Program is designed to educate personnel in the discipline of dosimetry within a radiation oncology environment, and to prepare them to take the Medical Dosimetry Certification Board (MDCB) examination.

Medical dosimetry is a dynamic, exciting field involving a combined knowledge of mathematics, physics, and the biological and medical sciences. Dosimetrists plan optimal isodose distributions and treatment dose calculations for a variety of external beam as well as brachytherapy treatments. Medical dosimetrists must possess excellent analytical skills, the ability to critically evaluate data, and an aptitude for physics and mathematics. They must also be able to work closely as a team with physicists, physicians, radiation therapists, and other personnel.

Due to a lack of training programs in medical dosimetry throughout the United States, there is a shortage of medical dosimetrists in many areas of the country. This program aims to provide a supply of well-trained dosimetrists who will be able to meet the needs of radiation oncology facilities in the local area and beyond.

Mission statement

The mission of the certificate program in medical dosimetry is to prepare professionals in the field through broad education and training in all aspects of the profession.  This will include critical thinking, clinical competence, effective communication, and professionalism as they apply to the field of medical dosimetry.  The program encourages intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual development by emphasizing these goals in its curriculum, which is reflected in the motto of Loma Linda University Health—"To Make Man Whole".

Program learning outcomes (PLOs)

  1. Students will demonstrate critical thinking by performing hand calculations, utilizing software tools to optimize isodose distributions to achieve treatment goals through maximizing target coverage, minimizing hot/cold spots, and sparing critical structures as per prescription.
  2. Students will be clinically competent at creating deliverable treatment plans with considerations of machine and patient constraints, calculating monitor units for clinical set-ups, and minimizing systematic and random errors by checking plan parameters. Students will thoughtfully follow hospital policies and procedures while performing all dosimetry activities.
  3. Students will be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  4. Students will demonstrate professionalism by treating everyone with respect and courtesy, abiding by all HIPPA rules. They will demonstrate responsible attitude and be accountable for their actions.
  5. The program will achieve the following outcomes: Students will complete the program, pass the MDCB examination, have a job within a 6 month post completions of passing their MDCB exam, and maintain an attrition rate of than 25%.

Program design

  • The program for both tracks is five quarters in length.
  • Instruction includes a mixture of lecture, laboratory, and clinical work. Students will be exposed to a variety of methodologies within dosimetry, including work with proton therapy treatment planning.
  • The majority of instruction will be conducted in the Radiation Medicine Department of Loma Linda University Medical Center. There are also  short clinical rotations to Long Beach Memorial and City of Hope medical centers.
  • The program faculty consists of physicists, dosimetrists, and radiation therapists who are extremely experienced in their field—many in both photon and proton therapy treatment planning.

The American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD) strongly supports the concept of formal dosimetry training, which leads to board eligibility for the certification in medical dosimetry. This qualification is considered to be the gold standard in dosimetry education.

The program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

Admission is based on a selective process.  In addition to Loma Linda University and School of Allied Health Professions admissions requirements, the applicant must also complete the following requirements:

Track 1—A.S. in radiation therapy technologist track

  • ARRT registration in radiation therapy technology, with a minimum of two years postgraduate clinical experience
  • Must hold bachelor's degree (any major) in addition to radiation therapy certification
  • College algebra
  • Trigonometry

Track 2—B.S. physics track

  • a baccalaureate degree in physics, mathematics, or equivalent from an accredited university
  • Anatomy and physiology (no laboratory required)
  • Medical terminology
  • Eight hours in a radiation oncology department observing the work of the medical dosmetrist

Courses

RTMD 301. Treatment Planning I. 2 Units.

Studies in-depth the planning of isodose distributions and dose calculations within different target volumes. Topics covered include IMRT, conformal therapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery.

RTMD 302. Treatment Planning II. 2 Units.

Develops the student's ability to construct treatment plans using 3D/IMRT planning techniques. Integrates theory with practice. Students required to complete a number of plans that utilize all the major treatment techniques, based on anatomical tumor sites. Lecture includes discussion and plans related to specific tumors, after which students are expected to produce similar plans, compile a notebook of plans, and present plans to the class as a midterm and final examination.

RTMD 305. Special Topics. 2 Units.

Studies cutting-edge techniques in depth as they apply to therapy—including radiation oncology and the diagnostic modalities that support them. Topics include IMRT, TBI, USGI, IORT, MLC, dynamic wedging, virtual simulation (CT simulation), stereotactic radiosurgery, HDR, proton therapy, MRI, US, and NRM. Students make a weekly presentation from a peer-reviewed journal or discuss a research paper on one of the studied topics. Class paper on a specific area of study due at the end of the quarter.

RTMD 307. Principles of Brachytherapy. 2 Units.

Includes a two-week rotation at Long Beach Memorial Hospital to observe brachytherapy. Principles of radiation protection as they relate to brachytherapy.

RTMD 309. Radiation Therapy Core—Concept Review. 1 Unit.

Conducted in the seminar/review format. Students research and present information on weekly schedule of core topics and concepts relating to radiation therapy techniques, oncology, radiobiology, and patient care. Students complete assigned readings and answer general review questions.

RTMD 310. Applied Math for Medical Dosimetry. 1 Unit.

A review of the higher mathematics skills required for dosimetric calculations. Course conducted in a tutorial format in which students meet regularly with faculty to review problems from an assigned mathematics workbook.

RTMD 314. Quality Assurance, with Laboratory. 2 Units.

General overview of quality-assurance management within a radiation oncology department, with specific emphasis on continuous quality assurance (CQI). Examines the theoretical and practical application of quality-assurance techniques as they relate to treatment planning and other dosimetry functions.

RTMD 355. Physical Principles of Radiation Therapy I. 3 Units.

Nature and description of the structure of matter and energy. Radioactive decay schemes and interaction of photons and gamma radiation. Instrumentation involved in measurement of ionizing radiation, beam quality, and dose. Laboratory.

RTMD 356. Physical Principles of Radiation Therapy II. 3 Units.

Discusses the following areas: calibration techniques of photon, particulate, and electron beams; percentage depth dose, tissue-air ratios, treatment planning, scatter functions, field flatness, and symmetry; field shaping, arc therapy, and tissue inhomogeneities; clinical dosimetric considerations. Includes laboratory.

RTMD 961. Practicum. 8 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: twenty-eight hours.

RTMD 962. Practicum. 10 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-four hours.

RTMD 963. Practicum. 9 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-one hours.

RTMD 964. Practicum. 11 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-six hours.

RTMD 965. Practicum. 11 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-six hours.

RTMD 971. Practicum. 10 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-three hours.

RTMD 972. Practicum. 9 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty hours.

RTMD 973. Practicum. 10 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-four hours.

RTMD 974. Practicum. 11 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-six hours.

RTMD 975. Practicum. 11 Units.

Practical application of the theoretical knowledge of dosimetry. Includes external beam treatment planning, monitor unit calculations, brachytherapy, and quality assurance procedures as they pertain to dosimetry practice. Students integrated into the dosimetry and physics team, with opportunity to work with various kinds of treatments and treatment beams. Per week: thirty-six hours.