Medical Radiation Therapist

Community and Health

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Clerical or OrganisingHelping or advisingAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Medical Radiation Therapists design treatment plans for cancer patients and administer radiation therapy treatment in conjunction with radiation oncologists or other medical specialists. Radiation therapy also known as Radiation oncology, is the treatment and management of cancer by radiation. Radiation therapy plays a major role in treating cancer patients and in many cases offers a cure and relief of symptoms. They are involved in the day-to-day treatment of cancer patients. Future Growth Strong

Medical Radiation Therapists operate high energy X-rays and other radiation and electron generating and monitoring equipment, to administer radiation treatment for medical purposes in conjunction with Radiation Oncologists or Other Specialist Medical Practitioners.

Radiation Therapy may be the primary treatment option or used in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy to increase survival rates.

ANZSCO ID: 251212

Alternative names: Radiation Therapist; Radiotherapist; Therapeutic Radiographer

Knowledge, skills and attributes

To become a Medical Radiation Therapist, you would need:

  • interest and ability in science
  • attention to detail
  • able to work neatly and accurately
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • able to work as part of a team
  • aptitude for working with computers
  • patient and empathetic towards others
  • supportive and professional approach when treating cancer patients

At work
Medical Radiation Therapist at work
(Source: MapMyCareer)

Duties and Tasks

  • Provide explanations and information to patients about radiation therapy treatment, its possible side effects and self-care procedures
  • Coordinate the various activities that make up the patient's treatment and care plan
  • Use simulators, CT scanners and other medical imaging equipment to identify and define the anatomy to be treated and those to be avoided
  • Devise a treatment plan that will deliver the optimum radiation dose to the target anatomy and minimise dose to unaffected anatomy
  • Calculate the treatment machine settings, associated equipment and computer verification systems to deliver the radiation dose as prescribed by the radiation oncologist
  • Administer the radiation treatment and record the delivered dosage into patients' record sheets
  • Receives referrals to perform radiation treatment of patients.
  • Determines appropriate equipment to use.
  • Calculates details of procedures such as length and intensity of exposure to radiation, size and strength of dosage of isotopes and settings of recording equipment.
  • Explains procedures to patients and answers patients' queries about processes.
  • Ensures patients welfare during procedures.
  • Positions patients, screens and equipment preparatory to procedures.
  • Conveys findings of procedures to medical practitioners.
  • Ensure all protective wear is utilised as standard procedures require
  • Monitor and assess the patient's wellbeing before, during and after the treatment, taking particular note of side effects of treatment
  • Participate in research and development activities and clinical trials
  • Supervise and train students allocated from universities in the practical aspects of radiation therapy
  • Commit to the Continuing Professional Development Program (which is mandatory for registration)

Working conditions

Radiation therapists work in hospitals or radiation oncology centres. They work with a team of radiation oncologists, nurses, medical physicists, engineers and technicians, data managers, administrative staff and other hospital staff.

Tools and technologies

Radiation therapists use simulators and/or CT scanners to identify the areas to be treated and those to be avoided. They use advanced computer systems to calculate precise radiation dosages and create treatment plans.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a radiation therapist you have to study medical radiation science at university, majoring in radiation therapy. To get into these courses you need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in radiation therapy.

To work as a medical radiation therapist in Australia, you will need to obtain registration from the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia. You will also need to obtain a licence to operate radiation equipment from the Radiological Council.

Postgraduate studies may also be useful.

Additional Information

Depending on the length of the university course, some graduates are required to complete a year of clinical practice in an accredited radiation oncology department. Those completing a 4-year degree with the necessary clinical component are not required to undertake this additional year. Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate, immunisations and a Working with Children Check (NSW) or a Working with Vulnerable People Check (ACT).

It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia before practising as a radiation therapist in any state or territory of Australia.

You must also obtain a licence to operate radiation equipment from the appropriate state or territory authority. In the ACT, licences are issued by the Health Protection Service, Radiation Council. In NSW, licences are issued by the Environment Protection Authority (NSW).

Employment Opportunities

Radiation therapy treatment centres can be found in major cities and rural locations. The career structure for radiation therapists allows for professional development and promotion in technical, research and managerial areas.

Factors that influence demand for this occupation include government funding and health policy, advances in medicine and technology, ageing of the population and the incidence of cancer.

Did You Know?

What is a CT scan?

CT Scanner

CT Scanner
(Source: CT_Scans)

A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles around your body and uses computer processing to create cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues inside your body. CT scan images provide more-detailed information than plain X-rays do.

A CT scan has many uses, but it's particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.
(Source: Mayo Clinic)



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