Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare and Carris Health care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to helps us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Behind the Scenes: The Role of Medical Physicist Joe Schmidt at Carris Health Care Center

Published in Medical Professionals, Cancer Care

Author: Staff

Patients at Carris Health Care Center may not have ever seen Joe Schmidt, a medical physicist, or even know what he does, but he plays an integral role in providing radiation care to cancer patients.

Radiation Technology to Medical Physicist

When Joe first entered the medical profession, he was a radiology technologist. At the time, he didn’t know that his passion for the field would lead him down the road to becoming a medical physicist after first pursuing careers as a radiation therapist, medical dosimetrist and head of the radiation program at the University of Minnesota.

“I didn’t enter the radiation field intending to become a medical physicist, but the further along I got in my career, the more interesting physics was to me so I went for it. I’m glad I did,” Joe said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Medical physicists can work in clinical or hospital service areas like Joe does at Willmar Regional Cancer Center.  They can also pursue careers in research and development or teaching. But Joe knew he wanted to work as closely as he could with patients to help them during their cancer journey. Though Joe doesn’t work one-on-one with patients, he works together with a team to develop the radiation treatment plans for individual patients.

“I love what I do. I don’t interact with patients as much as I did when I first began my career, but it’s humbling to know that what I’m doing every day makes a difference in the lives of our patients,” he said. “Working with cancer patients can be a very emotional thing, but it’s also one of the most rewarding career paths I could imagine.”

Though every day is a little different, his role at the Carris Health Care Center is to assure the safe and effective delivery of radiation to each radiation patient.  Joe works closely with each member of the radiation care team including oncologists, therapists, nurses and the medical dosimetrist.

For every radiation oncology patient treated at the Cancer Center, Joe must review their treatment plan with the medical dosimetrist. The doctor’s prescription for treatment determines how much radiation is needed to target the cancer in a patient’s body, but it is Joe’s knowledge of radiation physics that enables the prescribed dose to be delivered.  It’s why he’s frequently seen consulting with the Cancer Center’s radiation oncologists to collaborate on each patient’s treatment plan. Joe is also in charge of checking the radiation equipment and software to be sure it is performing as it should. Everything Joe does ensures the health and safety of radiation patients at Carris Health Care Center .

“If you asked most people what a medical physicist was, they’d have no idea. What we do is behind-the-scenes,” he said.  “It’s just one piece in the large puzzle of providing quality care to cancer patients when they need us most, and I’m honored to play my part to help them at a tough time in their lives.”