November’s National Radiologic Technology Week is an annual celebration of the discovery of the x-ray in 1895 and recognition of the contributions of imaging technologists and radiation therapists to patient care. To learn more about what the role of a radiation therapist entails, we spoke to Taek Oh, RT, one of three Lead Radiation Therapists here at the New York Proton Center (NYPC).
With a bachelor’s degree in biology and experience as an EMT, Taek developed a passion for patient care very early on. While pursuing his degree at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), he was introduced to proton therapy when he had the opportunity to rotate through a nearby proton center during his junior year. At the time, there were only 10 proton centers in the country, and Taek found his niche.
After graduating from VCU in 2017, Taek worked at the Maryland Proton Center as a staff radiation therapist and then joined us here at NYPC in 2019.
As a Lead Radiation Therapist, Taek manages NYPC’s 25 staff radiation therapists and oversees treatment scheduling among the four treatment rooms. In doing so, he acts as a liaison between many of the various departments at NYPC, including Patient Coordinators, Nursing, Physics, and Dosimetry. He also administers proton radiation therapy to patients. This involves carefully positioning patients using immobilization devices and laser beams to ensure that the patient is in the correct position so that the pencil beams are delivered with absolute precision.
Taek wants patients to know that he understands beginning radiation treatment can be anxiety provoking, but that proton therapy is completely painless, and the entire staff at NYPC is eager to make the process as comfortable and seamless as possible.
He says, “I really take pride in our center, because our entire team is so dedicated to comforting patients. We all look forward to providing the best patient care as much as possible, and I feel that all the therapists do a really great job of talking with the patients throughout treatment and explaining the process at length.”
For Taek, the most rewarding part of his job is the bonds that he is able to build with his patients. Given that treatment is administered frequently in a short period of time, he sees the same patients often and as a result forms strong relationships with the people he’s treating, as well as their families. The role can be stressful and seeing patients that are going through such a challenging period of their life can feel very heavy. However, Taek finds relief in the knowledge that he is able to give his patients a chance at recovery.
He deeply values the end-of-treatment bell-ringing ceremonies, which serve as a reminder of how crucial his work is, and the gratitude that patients and their families feel when treatment is completed.
“The bell ringing can be one of the best, most rewarding experiences; our patients trust us with their lives, and after treating them for so many weeks, it’s incredibly rewarding when they finally ring that bell.”
During National Radiologic Technology Week – and every week – we are immensely grateful to Taek and all of our radiation therapists for their tireless efforts to ensuring our patients receive the best care possible.
Taek Oh, RT is part of the New York Proton Center’s Clinical Support team. To learn more about the NYPC care team and how we offer holistic patient support during your proton therapy treatment, contact us and we’ll connect you with a member of our team.