National survey on the practice of radiation therapists in Australia
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Introduction: Radiation therapy (RT), like many allied health professions, has lacked professional practice clarity, which until 2008 had not been comprehensively investigated. This manuscript describes the first phase of a three-phase project investigating the current and future practices of radiation therapists (RTs) in Australia. The aim of phase 1 was to define the practice of RTs in Australia. Methods: A quantitative approach was used to gain an understanding of RT practice. A national survey was distributed to RTs in Australia. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyse the data. RT practice was analysed in relation to core and non-core roles, where non-core roles were further divided into basic and advanced practices. Results: The data from the national survey were representative of the Australian RT population (n = 525). The current practice of RTs is presented in summary tables for each area of work (treatment, planning, simulation, mould room and general). Conclusion: This study provided clarification of RT practice and indicated there was a desire to relinquish administrative roles to focus on RT–specific practice. There was evidence that some advanced roles were currently practiced in Australia; however, there was no structure to support these roles and they were based only on local need. This study identified that the profession needs to consider how they will maintain core RT practice, while encouraging the development of new roles, and whether some roles need to be relinquished.
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