By Alex Bourquein
There are only 5,000 radiation oncologists in the United States today. It is a small specialty that requires five additional years after medical school and requires an understanding of math and physics, board certifications in radiation and radiobiology, and knowing how to safely use radiation to affect living tissue.
Dr. Bobby Bains, radiation oncologist at Baylor-Scott & White Health Cancer Center College Station, studied electrical engineering during his undergraduate degree at University of Texas-Austin. As a doctor, this has helped him with advanced problem solving and coming up with logical pathways that lead to a diagnosis because his profession deals with complex machines. By having an understanding of the electronics and math surrounding the radiation machine, he is better able to direct high energy x-rays into the body to treat cancers, and by being able to map the exact location and size of the tumor using image-guiding equipment, healthy tissues can be saved and protected from the radiation that attacks the cancer.
His average day consists of meeting new patients, counseling about treatment options, and ordering exams. This is easier to do because of the new renovations in the Baylor Scott & White Cancer Center, which recently installed a CT scanner in the department that allows for faster results.
Prior to his move to Baylor Scott & White, Bains had been operating his own independent practice for 10 years at the Aggieland Cancer Treatment Center.
“By bringing my experience as an independent physician and becoming integrated into a solid health care system, I can better care for my patients by having everything in the same place,” says Bains.
“Working as a doctor within a cancer specialty, a certain appreciation is formed for the endurance of the human spirit despite an ominous diagnosis,” says Bains.
By being with patients every step of the way and forming a complete treatment plan, he can help his patients with the battles ahead of them in the fight against cancer.
“While doctors get a lot of the credit for when things go right, it is heavily dependent on having the right staff, both in terms of nurses and physicists,” says Bains. “The treatments are complex and we have to have personnel that are extremely qualified. With a background in physics, it is easier for us to do a job well done.”
Bains works to make his community a better place by being involved with initiatives that promote worthy causes. He was on the board for the American Cancer Association for two years, participated in Relay for Life, and has given community interaction talks.
When he is not at work, Bains enjoys visits to his family pecan orchard, traveling the world, and participating on the amateur tennis player’s circuit. He has traveled to every continent with the exception of Antarctica, and his favorite trips have been a safari in Kenya and his frequent excursions to Asia. As captain for the College Station team in United States Professional Tennis Association State championship, Bains finds tennis to be a release as well as a time to relax and refocus his energies in order to be at the top of his game for his patients.