Fewer radiation therapist positions are going unfilled, according to a recent staffing survey by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) conducted between May and April this year. The rate fell in the first few months of 2005 to 6.2 percent from a national average of 7.9 percent in January 2004, according to a new staffing survey by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Open radiation therapist positions are not the only to see a drop. Also in decline are medical dosimetrists, medical physicists, and oncology nurses. Only radiation oncologists saw an upshot in average vacancy rates, going up a smidge from 6.2 percent in 2004 to 6.4 percent in 2005.
In other survey findings, 27.4 percent of survey respondents found it less difficult to fill positions in 2005 than in 2004, while 33.1 percent found it to be the same, with just 10.8 percent said it was more of a challenge.
According to the survey, most respondents did not indicate consequences as a result of staff shortages. Just 5 percent of respondents reported procedure cancellations due to employee shortages. More dramatically, 14 percent claimed to have reduced plans for acquiring new technology because of staffing shortfalls and nearly 19 percent said they had reduced the number of staff members assigned to each treatment unit.
Martino noted that the decline in vacancy rates parallels an increase in the number of individuals becoming certified in radiation therapy through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. According to the ARRT, 941 people took the certification examination in radiation therapy in 2004, up from 830 in 2003 and 652 in 2002.
The survey also seems to indicate that staffing levels depend somewhat on geographical location, with rural areas more likely coming up short.
The ASRT survey respondents were comprised of more than 370 chief radiation therapists, chief dosimetrists, managers and directors of radiation therapy facilities. You can review the full results here: www.asrt.org