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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about studying Radiation Therapy

What is Radiation Therapy?


Radiation therapy is the treatment of disease, usually cancer, by radiation. The radiation therapist is part of a skilled team of health professionals who care for and treat patients. Working under supervision of an oncologist, the radiation therapist plans and delivers the treatment.
Radiation therapists have a close involvement with patients, usually carrying out the treatment five days a week for four to six weeks. With advances in early detection of cancer, most patients can be cured, resulting in immense job satisfaction for the radiation therapist.


What is the difference between Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy?


Medical Imaging Technologists use different technologies to create images to diagnose disease. This includes: X-rays, CT, MRI, Ultrasound and Nuclear Medicine.
NZ Education Providers: Ara – Institute of Canterbury, Unitec Institute of Technology (Auckland) and Universal College of Learning (UCOL, Palmerston North)
Radiation Therapists use technology to create images (X-rays & CT) and use high energy radiation to treat disease. Most patients receiving radiation therapy are cancer patients.
NZ Education Provider: University of Otago, Wellington


Where will it take me?


Radiation therapists in New Zealand work in the Departments of Radiation Oncology which are attached to hospitals in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. There are also three private departments in Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch which take students.
Employment opportunities are good, both in New Zealand and overseas. New Zealand trained radiation therapists are considered to have very high level skills and a broad range of knowledge.
The education of radiation therapists is specialised and is available in New Zealand only through the University of Otago, Wellington.


How long is the undergraduate course?


This is a full-time programme of study over three years. The first year is spent at the University of Otago, Wellington, while the second and third years have one semester at the University of Otago, Wellington and one semester at a clinical department.


Are there any postgraduate study options?


The Radiation Therapy Department at University of Otago, Wellington offers a range of programmes for further education at postgraduate level.
Postgraduate study in Radiation Therapy is distance taught, providing flexibility for clinical practitioners wishing to further their academic qualifications to underpin clinical practice.