‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ – YOUR CHOICE SAVE LIVES

My Health Career is pleased to present a guest article by Mel Grand. Mel is a qualified radiation therapist and is currently working as a Project Officer at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) on the ‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ project.

“Cancer has a major impact on the Australian community, with one in every three people developing cancer in their lifetime. Cancer treatment is an important health priority area in Australia. Radiation oncology’s impact on the fight against cancer is important.

Radiation therapy is a proven, effective way to treat cancer and can be used alone or together with other treatments like surgery or chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs). Using highly precise doses of radiation to damage or destroy cancer cells, radiation therapy is usually delivered to patients in controlled measures called fractions, over a number of weeks – this gives normal cells time to recover between treatments and allows high doses of radiation to be delivered to the cancer site over a period of time.

Radiation Oncology involves three unique medical specialties working together to focus on the treatment of cancer patients with radiation therapy treatment (also known as radiotherapy); namely radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and radiation oncology medical physicists.

A radiation oncologist is a medical doctor who completes training to specialise in the management of cancer patients, specifically using radiation therapy and is responsible for monitoring the patient and organising imaging and other tests, in order to create and action a unique management plan for a patient.

A radiation therapist is a health professional who designs and calculates (plans) the best treatment for the patient as well as delivering the radiation therapy to the patients. A radiation therapist is responsible for ongoing patient care and the wellbeing of the patient and their family over the length of treatment.

A radiation oncology medical physicist is a scientist who creates, implements and monitors the delivery of radiation therapy and are most typically involved with the safe operation and quality of systems used for imaging and treatment of patients. A radiation oncology medical physicist takes into account the protection and safety of patients and others involved in the treatment process.

The process of delivering radiation therapy treatments is complex and involves an understanding of medical physics, radiobiology, radiation safety, and the interaction of radiation with other treatments. Each step in the process of radiation therapy requires strict quality control measures to ensure that patients receive the set treatment correctly.

Radiation Oncology uses rapidly changing technology to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of radiation therapy, including better control and cure of tumours, as well as reducing side effects. It is an exciting and changing field of medicine.

Working in Radiation Oncology requires excellent communication and teamwork skills and the ability to form respectful and trusting relationships with both adult and child patients, and their families to ensure a joint approach to the patient’s treatment.

If you have an interest or desire for mathematics and the sciences, particularly physics and biology as well as an interest in using state of the art technology, then a career in radiation oncology may be for you.

A Career in Radiation Oncology is currently being promoted through the ‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ Project.  This profession is expected to grow over the next decade. The profession has recognised the need to raise awareness of a career in Radiation Oncology to target current workforce issues, address staffing shortfalls and inefficiencies and also attract suitable and highly qualified candidates for this career. The Australian Government Department of Health have provided funding for this project.

How can you learn more about a career in radiation oncology?
•    View the ‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ website at and take a look at the careers videos and other information
•    Visit the ‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ stand at a careers expo. Visit the website for updates on attendance at expos and careers events
•    Visit a radiation oncology department for a tour of the facilities. Contact details are available at http://www.acareerinradiationoncology.com.au/_uploads/files/Australian_Radiotherapy_department_contact_list_2013.pdf
•    Participate in ‘A Career in Radiation Oncology’ seminar.
For further information on a career in radiation oncology, please visit www.acareerinradiationoncology.com.au, ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or contact us at info@acareerinradiationoncology.com.au.

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