Career Awareness

REAL LIFE RADIATION THERAPIST
 
AUDREY

I have a sense of pride working for Mayo Clinic. I think Mayo has high standards. We will do our best and will really look for the problem and take care of it to the best of our ability. You will get good care here -- we are committed to that.

I work with cancer patients using a linear accelerator machine to treat their cancer with high-energy X-rays. If you think of an X-ray on a broken leg -- that uses thousands of volts. Our treatments use millions of volts. We are with patients for the majority of their treatment, making sure that treatments are delivered accurately. This is a busy area -- this week our machine had 36 patients on it. We have patients scheduled every 15 minutes, unless they have numerous body areas to treat. Then they might take a half-hour to an hour. On average, we see about 30 patients per week. We have state-of-the-art equipment, which is a nice feature of working at Mayo. It almost looks like we are flying an airplane because we have about four computer screens and keyboards to work from. We have an awesome physics and engineering staff that keep our equipment up and running.

This occupation allows me to get to know the patients -- I have a special place in my heart for them. They are awesome. A lot of people say, "Isn't it depressing working in radiation oncology," because people have cancer and are dying. However, a lot of our patients don't die and don't have a terminal sentence. They are very grateful that we are there to provide a service. We have a lot of fun. They bring us cards when they are done. I wish I could spend even more time with them.

My advice to high school students is to look at a variety of careers. See what interests you, then try to get a firsthand look at that occupation. I know a high school student who thought he would like teaching so he volunteered to teach. He found out that he did not enjoy it at all, so he tried something else.