Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
Radiation Therapy is a fantastic profession which requires not only a high level of technical competence but a real passion for helping people who are going through a very challenging time in their lives. It is a profession for people that enjoy working with and for others. Great communication skills are the most vital to ensure that you thrive as a Radiation Therapist. It is a very people based profession. You also need to be technologically savvy, as we are working with very sophisticated planning systems and treatment machines. You can’t take radiation back once it has been delivered so you also have to have attention to detail and good levels of concentration. You also must have a sense of humour and like chocolate, there is always a steady stream coming from the patients!
Towards the end of secondary school, I had a broad range of interests and looked into many career pathways. The possibilities and choices seemed so numerous that it became a challenge to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my career. I had studied math methods, psychology, physics, politics, English and literature. I always wanted to enter a field that helped improve people’s lives and I decided that the medical field was the area which I would find most enjoyable, challenging and rewarding.
Inside the medical field I wanted a career working with and for people in a dynamic team environment. My career advisor actually told me about the Bachelor of Medical Radiations. I really liked the ongoing connections with patients that radiation therapy offers. I did some further research and reading online and decided that radiation therapy seemed to be a perfect fit for me where I could work alongside a great team including radiation oncologists, physicists, nursing staff as well as social workers, occupational therapists and physios to name a few. I’m a people person so working in such an environment is something that I really enjoy. It is also exciting to be working with amazing technology to provide the best possible care for patients with cancer.
Enrolling in the Bachelor of Applied Science at RMIT, I was really impressed with the course structure and the close connections we had with clinical centres. This made the subject material we studied at uni real, and the interactions with the professionals and the patients in the clinical world gave us a sense of belonging to the profession. The focus on ensuring that we were well prepared to walk into a profession with clear career progression resonated well with me.
After placements with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre during my tertiary studies, I was fortunate enough to gain an intern position and subsequently permanent employment at the centre where I have enjoyed both clinical and education roles.
Along with education courses and much professional development, I have also studied a certificate 3 and 4 in fitness with a view to incorporate exercise alongside cancer treatments which has shown to be of great benefit.
What I like most about being a Radiation Oncology professional is that I am in a field which is rapidly evolving as the technology we are using constantly improves our ability to deliver the best possible treatments. I love the balance in Radiation Oncology. It is very people based profession however there is also a real technical challenge. Working in a team is also something that I enjoy; I’m not sure if it is my background growing up in team sports but working with people for people is really satisfying. We often deal with patients who are going through a very challenging time in their lives, so to be able to provide them with a treatment option and to see that treatment through from planning to delivery of treatment, can be emotionally and mentally testing, however this is what makes the job so rewarding also.
Not every single day is easy, but you get to leave everyday knowing that you have made a positive contribution to someone’s life. It is a job which you can travel with not only within Australia but around the world. We have very good working conditions and are supported in a team environment. We are also supported for further related study and enjoy a nine day fortnight, Monday to Friday with no night shifts - a bit of a rarity in healthcare.