Marissa Johnson MSRS, RT (T)

Marissa Johnson, Interim Program Director Radiation Therapy Program
“Radiation therapy is the perfect field if you want something that is always evolving. If you like technology as well as taking care of patients, it’s the perfect mixture of both.”

Program Director and Assistant Professor

Radiation Therapy Program
UT Southwestern Medical Center

A Hands-On Approach

“This is a great program because we are very one-on-one with our students. We are right there with the students. The research, the new machines, the equipment coming in, the opportunities here are very broad and immense. What’s unique about our program is that we have a very small class size. And we’re very in tune to our students because we’re also in the clinic with them. At some other facilities, the faculty don’t go into the clinics with their students that often. We are very hands-on with our students, as well as with the therapists working with the students.”

Staying Involved in the Classroom

“When I was interviewing [at UTSW], my main thing was they said they were going to start a school at some point. That was their plan, to start a therapy program, and I always knew I wanted to be involved with education. So I came here to work. I’ve worked at UT Southwestern since 2002, and when they started the clinical therapy program in ’08, I was able to get involved [as clinical coordinator/instructor, which includes teaching and instructing students in the classroom and clinic].”

Relating to Patients

I like that you are able to see your patient for five days a week for up to six weeks, so you can really form a relationship with your patient, unlike any other field. They’re not just coming and going; you really get to bond with the people and help them with their cancer diagnosis. You have to have good communication with the patients, the dosimetrists, the doctors, other therapists. It’s very team-oriented. “

Always Evolving

“I absolutely love this field … working with the patients, I love it. But also you get to learn something different constantly. So if you’re a person who likes to constantly learn new things, new technology—it’s perfect. It’s never the same thing. The students get to rotate through the linear accelerators, the CT, dosimetry, nursing, and with these different areas, we have top-of-the-line equipment. We have the best technology here at UT Southwestern, so [students are] seeing not only the newest things that are coming along, but they‘re seeing research, often things that haven’t even been out in other facilities.”

First in Line

“We do have the Vero machine [Vero SBRT is an advanced system for delivering noninvasive radiation treatment to cancer patients], the first in North America, so students will be able to see this equipment that nobody else in the country has been able to see. These are used mostly for stereotactic treatments, more advanced and pinpointed treatments, and that’s the way radiation therapy is going in general.”

The Last Word

“I personally love working with students because I love what I’m doing so much. I love working with patients and I want to show students how rewarding it is. Seeing students realize that, getting into the clinic and being able to work with cancer patients, with such advanced technology and advanced equipment is really a great thing.”