COD Offers New Advanced Proton Therapy Certificate Program

By Brian Kleemann

College of DuPage is the first educational institution in Illinois to offer a new Proton Therapy Advanced Certificate program that will provide training in an emerging technology. 

Recently approved by the Illinois Community College Board and starting this fall, the certificate will help students gain the expertise to perform radiation therapy using proton sub-atomic particles. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20 percent job growth through 2020 for radiation therapists, with much of that growth in the proton therapy area.

"Protons have the ability to target a solid, non-metastasized tumor without damaging the surrounding tissue," said Jeff Papp, professor and director of the Radiation Therapy program. "This new treatment can more effectively control tumors, and patients experience fewer side effects."

Students must be radiation therapists before entering the 16 credit-hour program, which consists of three courses: "Principles of Proton Therapy," which will be offered online; "Proton Therapy Lab Practicum"; and a clinical experience at the CDH/ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Warrenville, currently the only facility in the state providing this treatment. Students can complete the program in either one semester or spread the coursework over two or three semesters.

Northern Illinois University has been approved to open a proton therapy center in West Chicago pending state funding, while Northwestern University Medical Center and Rush Medical Center are awaiting approval for centers, which are proposed for Rockford and Springfield. Currently, Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Ind., is the nearest school offering training.

"This is an emerging technology, and the new Proton Therapy Advanced Certificate puts College of DuPage on the forefront of providing this important education," Papp said. "Over the next decade, we will see a huge need for skilled proton therapists, both locally and nationally." 

For more information, call (630) 942-2259, email healthcareadvising@cod.edu or visit www.cod.edu/programs/dmi/radtherapy/proton_therapy.