Radiation Therapy Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is the use of various forms of radiation to treat diseases such as cancer, some blood disorders, and thyroid disease. Radiation therapy works by damaging or slowing the growth of the genetic material of cancer cells so that they cannot spread or grow any further.

In radiation therapy, beams of radiation are focused on a specific area in your body making it very effective in the treatment and destroying of tumors. As well as being the primary method of treating and destroying a tumor, radiation may also be used to shrink a tumor before removing it with surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery, as part of a combined treatment approach with chemotherapy or when you have a medical condition that may prevent you from getting chemotherapy.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Radiation Therapy courses in the following subject areas:

  • Understanding Cancers – Gain a basic scientific understanding of cancer – how tumors are formed and spread, risk factors, diagnosis, pathology, prevention, treatment, and lifestyle management (including palliative care).
  • Radiotherapy and its Physics – Explore the application of physics to the techniques of radiotherapy in medicine (focusing on cancer), and consider the effects of ionizing radiation on biological tissues.
  • Nursing Studies – Gain an insight into the caring profession and the practical and theoretical introduction to nursing, and health-related careers.
  • Adult Nursing Training – A study of the skills and techniques required in areas such as advanced patient hygiene procedures, environmental health and safety awareness, and how to ensure patient safety and comfort in the adult care setting.
  • Nursing Assistant Training – Gain the skills and techniques of the functions, methods, and techniques applied in providing adult patient care with particular emphasis on the daily bath, oral hygiene, and the benefits of a back massage in patient comfort.

Studying Radiation Therapy in college

Many Radiation Therapy courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or volunteering to do a work shadow with a hospital’s radiotherapy department and therapeutic radiographer. Work experience or shadowing will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Radiation Therapy you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of the treatment of long-term diseases such as cancer.

Most therapeutic radiographers are based in radiotherapy departments in hospitals, offices of physicians, and outpatient centers. Most radiation therapists work full time but working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a facility with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full time, 8 am-8 pm Monday to Friday. You should expect to work some long hours, including evenings and some weekends depending on the need for care.

Related jobs include:

  • Therapeutic radiographer
  • Clinical Radiologist
  • Radiologist
  • Diagnostic Radiographer
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
  • Clinical Scientist
  • Radiation oncologist
  • Radiation nurse
  • Radiation therapist
  • Radiation oncologist
  • Radiation physicist
  • Dosimetrist
  • Radiologic and MRI Technologists
  • Physician assistant
  • Nurse
  • Nursing Assistants and Orderlies
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • Physical Therapist Assistants
  • Physical therapist
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Dietician
  • Social worker

Further study

After completing a course in Radiation Therapy you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as cancer treatment and care, advanced practice radiotherapy.

There are also opportunities to specialize in particular areas of treatment such as ionizing or non-ionizing radiation or to work with specific groups of patients, such as children.


What is the difference between radiation therapy and chemotherapy?

Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die.

Chemotherapy is a medication given either by mouth or through an infusion into a vein or medication port. A Doctor will prescribe the type of medication that is most effective at treating a specific type of cancer cells.

What type of medical professionals are involved in Radiation Therapy treatments?

The type of radiation therapy and the amount needed will be prescribed by a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer, a radiation oncologist.

The radiation oncologist works closely with the other doctors and health care professionals involved in the care of the patient such as:

· A radiation physicist who makes sure that the equipment is working properly and that the machines deliver the right dose of radiation.

· A Dosimetrist, who works under the direction of the doctor and the radiation physicist and helps carry out the treatment plan by calculating the amount of radiation to be delivered to cancer and normal tissues that are nearby.

· A radiation therapist runs the equipment that delivers the radiation.

· A radiation nurse will coordinate the patient’s care and help them to learn about the treatment and how to manage side effects. The nurse can also answer questions the patient or their family members may have about the treatment.

· The health care team also may include a physician assistant, radiologist, dietician, physical therapist, social worker, or other health care professionals as needed.

Where can I study Radiation Therapy?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Side effects of radiation treatment are usually temporary and they vary depending on the area of the body that is being treated. Skin in the treated area may become sensitive and easily irritated.

· NYC’s Grand Central Station was made with a huge amount of granite, which emits radiation. There is more radiation in the station than a nuclear power plant would allow.

· Most of the radiation people are exposed to daily is not harmful because it is non-ionizing. Bananas emit radiation in small amounts. People emit more radiation than their cell phones do.

· Flight attendants and pilots are exposed to so much radiation from flying that they are considered radiation workers. They are exposed to more than many who work at nuclear power plants.

· A toy released in the 1950s had uranium samples in it. It was called the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory.



Mariza Halliday

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