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Alumnus develops treatment plans as medical dosimetrist

  • Patrick Farris

Posted on February 27, 2017

During his first few weeks working for Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Patrick Farris asked a lot of questions. He wanted to learn as much as possible from the nine other dosimetrists he worked with, but worried he would become a burden. His coworkers dismissed his hesitations, telling Farris they would be concerned if he ever stopped asking questions.

Farris received his master's degree in medical dosimetry in 2016 and accepted a position at Mayo Clinic before he graduated. In his role as a dosimetrist, he develops treatment plans for patients who are receiving radiation.

"I was drawn to this profession because you work directly with patients," said Farris. "Everything you do, from planning to implementation, is created to help the person you are working with. I've always looked for ways to help people, and dosimetry is the best way I can help."

Farris said each dosimetrist works differently so he had to learn small tips and techniques from his coworkers. He said patients also help decide on the best procedure.

“Everything we do is kind of like a puzzle,” he said. “You get different cases every time, so you work closely with the physician and patients to develop exactly what works best for each patient.”

Farris said the job was stressful at first, but he learned how to manage the challenges he faced. He said the experience he gained during his internship at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City, Michigan, helped.

"My internship was instrumental in learning the basics of the profession as well as self-reliance," he said. "I worked one-on-one with the only other dosimetrist there. She was an outstanding mentor."

Farris said he values the lessons he learned in the classroom. 

“By the end of my studies, I felt like I could do anything,” he said. “From the research and statistics in the classrooms to the real-life experience, I received all the tools I needed to jump into the job right away.”

Farris is preparing to take an exam to become a certified medical dosimetrist. After earning the certification, Farris said he wants to focus on staying on top of developing technologies that can aid his patients.

-By Lucas Escalada, student writer