The IAEA and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, are joining forces to tackle global inequalities in the training of healthcare professionals in radiation medicine, especially radiation therapists (RTTs).

The IAEA and Trinity College will work together to assess the barriers to implementing international programs for RTTs. The partnership aims to help countries develop their own radiation therapy education programs.

A series of webinars will be launched to provide up-to-date information on recent and emerging developments impacting the RTT profession and to share experiences in the development of radiation therapy training programs. Interested participants can register for the first webinar on July 5, 2021, which will focus on the changing roles of RTTs. The following webinars will cover topics such as developing a learning community and strategies for advancing the professional profile and training of RTTs.

RTTs are the healthcare professionals responsible for the accurate preparation and delivery of radiation therapy protocols to cancer patients. They also provide key psychosocial support to patients throughout their cancer treatment journey. However, RTT training around the world is very varied, ranging from limited or no radiation therapy specific training to comprehensive 4-year study programs, such as those offered by Trinity College Dublin.

“Trinity College Dublin has a strong history of working with the IAEA,” said Eduardo Zubizarreta, IAEA Head of Applied Radiobiology and Radiotherapy Section. “A notable achievement has been the training of trainers program for RTTs that we jointly developed with the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, ESTRO. This initiative, which saw its 11th edition in 2019, was an important driving force in the recognition of the RTT profession, particularly in Europe.

Radiation therapy is applied to 50-60% of all cancer patients at some point in their cancer treatment and is responsible for 40% of cancer cures, alone or in combination with other therapies, such as surgery and / or chemotherapy.

Michelle Leech, associate professor of radiation therapy at Trinity, added that RTT training was fundamental to the exact and precise delivery of radiation therapy protocols. “At Trinity College Dublin, we are committed to providing the highest quality education to all healthcare professionals working in the field of radiation oncology,” she said. “We look forward to adding Trinity’s expertise to that of the IAEA in addressing this global inequality and ultimately improving patient care.”

The discipline of radiation therapy at Trinity’s School of Medicine is a recognized world leader in the teaching of radiation medicine. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate radiation therapy programs and has an active research program, Applied Radiation Therapy Trinity (ARTT).

The IAEA supports countries in the use of nuclear medicine and radiation to fight a growing incidence of chronic diseases, such as cancer. It assists its Member States in purchasing equipment, researching, training health professionals and carrying out quality assessments, among others.

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