August 03, 2005

SIUC adds medical dosimetry program

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Applied Sciences and Arts is offering a post-baccalaureate certificate program in medical dosimetry.

SIUC's radiologic sciences program is collaborating with the radiation oncology department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to provide the graduate-level course – a first for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. The hospital's program is one of eight nationally recognized programs, and the only one in the Midwest.

Medical dosimetrists, an integral part of the cancer treatment team, plan and calculate radiation procedures for the treatment of cancer patients. SIUC received tentative approval to offer the certified program last month from the Missouri Board of Higher Education.

Scott Collins, an assistant professor in the University's radiologic sciences program, is a certified medical dosimetrist, and directed the program previously housed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Hospital officials approached Collins and asked about an affiliation with SIUC, Associate Dean Fred R. Isberner said.

"These are our first graduate students and this is a tremendous step for the college in offering graduate education, and an indication of the advancing technologies that we have been offering at the baccalaureate level," Isberner said.

"We are extremely pleased that Scott has been identified by Barnes-Jewish as someone who they want to continue in a leadership role and head up this program. It speaks well of Scott and the radiologic sciences program."

The first class through SIUC's Medical Dosimetry Program begins this month. The 52-week program will enroll between five and seven students annually, and is for students already trained as radiation therapists. Adjunct SIUC faculty employed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital will provide most of the didactic instruction as part of their contractual obligation with the hospital. Internships will be available at three or four sites.

Collins said there is a national shortage of medical dosimetrists. A 2002 radiation oncology workforce study showed there were more than 2,800 practicing dosimestrists but a national need for another 700, including 149 in the Midwest – with a shortage of 38 in Illinois and 17 in Missouri.

"This is going to be good for the profession, and it's a good opportunity for students," he said. "They are training at one of the best hospitals in the nation."

Offering progressive graduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information on the program contact Collins at 618/453-8800.