Radiation Therapist (UK: Therapeutic Radiographer)
What is radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is one of the main methods used to treat patients with cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. The radiation may be delivered by a machine outside the body, or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells.
About half of all cancer patients receive some type of radiation therapy at some time during the course of their treatment.
The radiation therapist (known in the UK as therapeutic radiographers) is the main contact person for the patient during their radiation therapy treatment and has responsibility for many aspects of their care during their treatment. She/he works closely as a member of the multidisciplinary team.
The radiation treatment administered by radiation therapists involves delivering doses of ionising radiation to patients to precisely target the cancer/tumour. The radiation therapist requires very specialist skills. The development of these clinical skills requires an interest in patient care and a keen interest in the field of science. Working as a radiation therapist also requires good technical skills, an ability to think critically and excellent interpersonal and communication skills. It is vital for a radiation therapist to be able to build a strong rapport with patients and their families as they care for patients throughout each stage of treatment.
- Planning individualised patient radiation therapy treatment in consultation with the multidisciplinary team.
- Administering radiation therapy as per the patient’s treatment plan.
- Using sophisticated imaging equipment to verify the treatment is delivered precisely as planned.
- Observing the clinical progress of patients and recognising and managing treatment side effects.
- Liaising with other members of the multidisciplinary team to determine the most appropriate care for patients.
- Informing and reassuring patients about their treatment and answering their questions in a calm and sensitive manner.
- Providing continuous support to the patient and their family.
- Participating in oncology research.
Travel: not usually a feature.
Working hours: Monday to Friday.
Location: public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
A degree course in radiation therapy is necessary. Courses are offered by Trinity College Dublin and the University of Ulster.