Starting a Career in Radiation Oncology
What career options are there?
There are a number of different professions within Radiation Oncology that work together to treat cancer patients. Qualified experts work as a team to deliver cancer care through radiotherapy. These professions include:
This video shows the relationship between the 3 specialities in the patient pathway.
A medical doctor who completes training to specialise in the management of cancer patients, specifically using radiotherapy. Radiation oncologists use cutting-edge technology and work in teams with other doctors to create and deliver radiotherapy to patients.
A health professional who designs, calculates (plans) and provides the radiation dose to patients and is responsible for ongoing patient care and wellbeing of the patient and their family over the length of treatment.
Radiation Oncology Medical Physicist
A scientist who creates, implements and monitors the delivery of radiotherapy, taking into account the protection and safety of patients and others involved in the treatment process.
This team of Radiation Oncology professionals is supported by a larger team which includes: engineers, information technology (IT) support, data managers, oncology nurses, social workers, dieticians and other health professionals.
Other career paths in Radiation Oncology may include industry, project management, teaching at university and consulting work, just to name a few.
Why choose a career in Radiation Oncology
Your choice to help saves lives
Radiation Oncology is an inspiring, rewarding and exciting field with a range of opportunities in the public and private areas. It combines the best areas of care for patients of all ages, with challenging and continually changing treatment. The daily work can be interesting and motivating.
There is an ongoing requirement for professionals in Radiation Oncology as the need for cancer treatment in the population increases. Radiation Oncology is an area with good job prospects. Work hours are regular and there is the added flexibility to travel and work overseas.
Working in Radiation Oncology requires excellent communication and teamwork skills. Daily interaction with patients who may be feeling ill or weak requires 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.
A Radiation Oncology professional will generally have:
- An interest and ability for sciences – biology and/or physics
- An interest in healthcare
- Logical thinking
- Problem solving skills
- Good communication skills
- A focus on patient care in both children and adults
- Enjoy working in a teamwork environment
- An interest in using state of the art technology
Where can I work?
Radiation Oncology centres are available all over Australia
In Australia, Radiation Oncology departments are found in major public hospitals, some private hospitals or private oncology clinics. Most departments are found in capital cities or larger regional and rural locations. Radiotherapy is usually given as an outpatient treatment which means that patients will visit each day just for the radiotherapy treatment.
Compared to other medical specialties, radiotherapy is delivered in a relatively small number of centres – 67 centres across Australia in 2013.
Is Radiation Oncology safe to practise as a profession?
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about radiation. Radiotherapy is delivered in a safe environment with controlled and monitored safety measures. Radiation Oncology professionals are carefully monitored and are trained to minimise the radiation dose to the patient and the public. Radiation Oncology professionals are not present in the treatment area during the patient’s treatment, but are positioned outside the room closely monitoring the patient on CCTV cameras.
Research in Radiation Oncology
Research in Radiation Oncology provides direct clinical benefit to patients. All members of the Radiation Oncology team can become involved in research that will result in better outcomes for patients. Participation in research may include taking part in clinical testing or laboratory research.