A radiation therapy treatment centre requires many staff members with different skill sets, covering the entire treatment chain. Radiation oncologists, radiation therapists and nurses are involved in patient treatment. Medical physicists and engineers are responsible for the equipment used.
Radiation oncologists (ROs) are responsible for the prescription of dose to the patient. ROs in Australia are represented by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR), which has a Radiation Oncology faculty. RANZCR is affiliated with the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG).
Radiation therapists (RTs), also known as dosimetrists, are responsible for the imaging of patients, and the planning and delivery of treatments. RTs in Australia are represented by the Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR). AIR is a member of the International Society of Radiographers & Radiological Technologists (ISRRT).
Nurses care for hospital in-patients when they are in the radiotherapy department and provide advice to out-patients.
Radiation oncology medical physicists (ROMPs) are responsible for ensuring that the delivered dose matches the planned dose. This involves commissioning new equipment, performing regular quality assurance checks on equipment being used in treatment (both in planning and delivery), and consultation for treatments with complicated dosimetry. Physicists are also largely responsible for radiation safety and risk management.
The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) ROMPs required at a treatment centre is typically calculated using workload specific formulas. The recommendations presented in the ACPSEM position paper (Oliver et al 2001) suggest that at least 1 FTE ROMP is required per typical linear accelerator. The position paper also suggests that no more than 25% of ROMP staff should be registrars (that is, in training).
ROMPs in Australia are represented by the Australasian College of Physical Scientists & Engineers (ACPSEM). ACPSEM is a member of the Asia-Oceania Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics (AFOMP), a regional chapter of the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP).
Engineers are responsible for the maintenance of radiation therapy equipment. Linear accelerators and CT scanners come with maintenance contracts, which, for example, cover the replacement of parts in the case of failure. The manufacturers employ engineers to do this work – each of whom cover a region containing multiple treatment centres.
- Oliver L, Fitchew R and Drew J, 2001. Requirements for radiation oncology physics in Australia and New Zealand, Australas Phys Eng Sci Med, 24(1): 1-18.