Technology | May 27, 2009

Radiation Therapy Staffing Rates Stable Despite Economic Downturn

May 27, 2009 - Staffing rates for radiation therapy facilities have remained relatively stable within the past two years, according to a recent study conducted by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

The 2009 ASRT Radiation Therapy Staffing Survey focused on medical facilities that employ full-time radiation therapists. Facilities with a 2009 budget for radiation therapists reported having 4.97 full-time therapists on staff, down only slightly when compared to the 2007 survey, which reported 5.20 full-time therapists.

“It is very interesting to see that despite the downturn in the economy, the number of open full-time employee positions for therapists and dosimetrists has remained relatively steady over the past two years,” said Myke Kudlas, ASRT’s vice president of education and research. “This may represent regional differences in demand, a trend we have seen in many imaging specialties.”

The survey also showed the vacancy rate for radiation therapists has slightly increased and is now at 7.6 percent from 5.4 percent in 2007.

Vacancy rates, defined as the percentage of budgeted full-time equivalent positions currently vacant and actively recruited, were 8.2 percent for medical dosimetrists, 12.1 percent for medical physicists, 9.2 percent for radiation oncologist positions, 7.1 percent for nurses and 6.1 percent and 10.2 percent respectively for ancillary and administrative staff positions.

“One must be careful when considering these percentages,” said John Culbertson, ASRT’s director of research. “There is a great amount of variability when comparing individual facility vacancy rates with one another. This makes it very difficult to generalize these percentages across the United States.”

One of the surprising study results showed that approximately 89 percent of respondents indicated that their facility does have a computed tomography device used for treatment simulation. Of these facilities, 81 percent of the respondents indicated that the simulator was located in the radiation therapy department. About 15 percent indicated that it was in the radiology department.

“Although this is the first time we have asked questions about CT simulation, the results are remarkable. Of the facilities that use CT for treatment planning, therapists operate the CT equipment 84 percent of the time. These results demonstrate the widespread use of CT in therapy treatment planning,” Kudlas added.

More than 530 chief radiation therapists, chief dosimetrists, managers and directors of radiation therapy facilities responded to the ASRT survey, which was completed in April 2009.

For more information: www.asrt.org

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