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How do you become a Radiation Therapist

How do you become a Radiation Therapist
Photo: How do you become a Radiation Therapist
You need to complete a tertiary education before you can become a radiation therapist.  If you are still at school, it is important to take subjects such as maths, biology and physics as well as an English-rich subject.  It can also be useful to have experience in helping or caring for people, to have worked in a hospital or to have been involved in an organisation that works with people that have cancer, such as the Cancer Society.  You will also need a current first aid certificate.

New Zealand

To become a radiation therapist in New Zealand, you must complete a Bachelor of Health Sciences at the University of Otago, based in Wellington.  Entry into the program is competitive, as numbers are limited to the number of clinical placements available.  Once you graduate this degree, you are qualified to use radiation for the treatment of disease, with minimal supervision.
The course is full-time, for three years and has both academic and practical components.  The first year of the course has only three weeks of clinical practice, while the last two years of the course are divided, with one semester on clinical placement and one semester focusing on academic studies.  During clinical placement, you will be based in one of the six departments in New Zealand that offer radiation therapy.  You will also be expected to complete work experience in an oncology department during the summer breaks, to ensure you get the necessary clinical experience to complete your degree.

Upon completing the degree, which involves a practical examination in third year, you can register with the New Zealand Medical Radiation Technologist’s Board as a qualified radiation therapist.

More information about this degree can be found on the University of Otago website: http://www.uow.otago.ac.nz/academic/radiationtherapy/index.html

Australia

There are a number of different options if you want to become a radiation therapist in Australia.  Programs accredited by the Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR) are offered on-campus in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  Most universities offer a full-time, three-year undergraduate, or two-year masters program, both of which must be followed by a one-year National Professional Development Program (NPDP).  The NPDP was formerly known as a professional development year and is a mediated entry to the profession, allowing you to become proficient clinically, building on the knowledge and skills you have acquired during academic study.  The University of South Australia offers a four-year undergraduate degree, which does not require completion of an NPDP.

All undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Australia involve both clinical and academic components.  Most of these are an approximately five-week block of work-integrated learning in each semester.  The four-year program has two years of academic study, with the final two years incorporating clinical practice.  You can find more detailed information on the websites listed below.

Monash University offers a two-year, full-time distance learning masters program.  There is a higher degree of clinical placement than in other university’s programs and the course also includes two summer semesters.

Upon completing either the four-year degree, or the NPDP year, you are eligible to obtain a validated statement of accreditation from the AIR.  Licensing requirements vary from state to state so you will also need to check how to register with your state’s radiation board.

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