Professional profile of Portuguese Radiation Therapists, competence related professional issues linked to ESTRO RTT core curriculum

Warsaw Medical Physics Meeting 2015

Background and Purpose: The continuous development and innovations in Radiation Oncology requires well trained and specialized practitioners. Among the multidisciplinary team, the Radiation Therapist (RTT) requires adequate knowledge and skills, to develop clearer and well defined roles, professionalism and clinical competences within the field of practice. The Core Curriculum (CC) recommended by ESTRO was published to promote and establish a standard that should be recognized and used by European member states. The CC defines the essential requirements that a qualified RTT must reach to be able to work as an autonomous and responsible member of the multidisciplinary team, and to promote best practices for a clinical effective and safe Radiotherapy. The purpose of this study was to describe the RTT professional profile by the level ofcompetencies in Portugal and understand its relationship with European recommendations of ESTRO RTT CC.

Material and Methods: The study was planned as exploratory-descriptive and cross-sectional which included a sample of 25% (71) among ~295 Portuguese RTTs working in the national territory. The data was accessed via web-based online survey which was distributed during May 2014. The questionnaire incorporated closed and open-ended questions, divided in four main sections: demographic (1), academic education (2), clinical skills (3) and competence level based on CC (4). The evaluation of clinical competences based on CC was based on a Likert scale from (fully disagree (1) to fully agree (5)), on which the “not applicable” (N.A.) was considered as a “no competence” or never acquired during academic education or clinical practice.

Results: From the collected questionnaires, 100% of RTT accomplish the minimum educational requirement, BSc (hons) of 4 years dedicated programme in Radiotherapy, which allow work in the national territory. Although RTTs performing specific clinical competences described in the 3rd CC have been scored above ~4, it was seen that a lower proportion of RTTs showed score above 2, mainly for treatment planning (40%) and brachytherapy (9%), which were linked with the RTT roles at departments of 18% and 4% rates respectively.

Conclusions: Despite dedicated programs only to Radiotherapy medical discipline provided by national higher education institutes, competences acquired and performed by Portuguese RTTs are mostly depend on departmental organization, role and level of responsibility of a RTT within each institution. According to questionnaire results, post-graduation programs are seen as a time consuming and non-profitable due to the poor rate of career progression, lack of benefits and financial support from institutions and the government. Although RTT does not perform certain activities in the clinic, the clinical domains described in ESTRO RTT CC were classified by most RTTs as skills and competences acquired during the academic degree, but may not apply on their clinical daily practice.

Filipe Moura

Practical Info

15-05-2015 10:50
40 minutes 12 seconds