Jay Dwyer

Jay Dwyer, Clinical Supervisor in the Radiation Therapy Program
“I don’t believe there’s another profession where I could make as big an impact on another person’s life.”

Senior Radiation Therapist

Department of Radiation Oncology
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Getting Started

“I had a lot of family members who were diagnosed with cancer. I always felt like I wanted to do something in the medical profession, but I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor — just didn’t think I was really cut out for that.  When I was 18 years old, I myself was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and even though I didn’t receive radiation therapy … I really related a lot, whether to the phlebotomist or to the nursing staff. There’s so much support staff that goes around a physician doing their job, I always felt I really wanted to be a part of that. Once I found out about radiation therapy and what that entailed, I wanted to do more.”

Answering the Call

“I quickly figured out that this is what I was called to do — what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So I studied harder, I made better grades, and I enjoyed the work that I did. [Now] I’m a clinical supervisor. … Like most of the therapists, it’s very hands-on. [Students are] just shadowing us when they go in, especially when they first get started, but as they start developing a better understanding of what it is to be a radiation therapist, what we do on a daily basis, they’re integrated very much into the treatment team.”

Style Points

“Our students have been just great. It’s a good clinical environment. There are many therapists here and [the students] get to see that everybody in the profession has a little bit different style. … My role is to just kind of ‘be there,’ working in the room with them, interacting with the patients. In the beginning, it’s a lot of instruction — what we do, how we do it. They’re handling the physics and the technical stuff in the classroom, but here in the clinic, it’s all about relationships and being exact in the treatment.”

A World of Variety

“Probably the best thing about working at this center is that it is an academic facility and we have doctors and physicists from all over the world. It’s a large clinic. It’s a busy clinic. We’re not very specialized — we have so many different areas of specialty that we get to see a lot of things. As a therapist, I think it’s important to keep your skills active, and so we see some very unique things here at UT Southwestern.”

Working Independently, Together

“Radiation therapy isn’t really a ‘lone wolf’ kind of profession. It takes a team of individual professionals coming together and, from the very beginning, planning, imaging, developing the model for the patient’s therapy treatment. We all work independently, but our professions all come together to come up, ultimately, with a treatment plan that’s designed specifically for each patient. A great thing about this profession is that we do see the patients on a daily basis. We’re the ones that they talk to. Sometimes they cry with us; sometimes we laugh. More often, than not, we’re laughing together.”

The Last Word

“I don’t know if everyone’s just like me, but the first time I went for observation, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”