Trinity College Dublin: International Atomic Energy Agency and Trinity tackle global inequality in radiation medicine education

Trinity College Dublin and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are joining forces to combat the global inequality that exists in the education of radiation medicine health professionals, particularly, radiation therapists (RTTs).

Under a recently signed agreement, Trinity and the IAEA will work together to assess the barriers to the implementation of international curricula for RTTs. The partnership is aimed at empowering countries to develop their own radiation therapy education programmes.

As part of this initiative, a webinar series will be launched to provide up-to-date information on recent/upcoming developments impacting the RTT profession and share experiences in the development of radiation therapy education programmes. Interested participants can register for the first webinar on 5 July 2021, which will focus on the evolving roles of RTT. Following webinars will handle topics such as development of a learning community, and strategies in advancing the professional profile and education of RTTs.

Radiation therapists are the health professionals responsible for the accurate preparation and delivery of radiation therapy protocols to cancer patients. Their level of education impacts on the quality of treatment that cancer patients receive. They also provide key psychosocial support to patients on their cancer treatment journey. However, the education of radiation therapists globally is very varied, ranging from limited or no radiation therapy-specific education to full 4 years dedicated degree programmes, such as offered by Trinity College Dublin.

The aim of this partnership is to increase the education level of radiation therapists globally so that all patients have access to equal quality cancer treatment.

Dr Michelle Leech, Associate Professor in Radiation Therapy at Trinity and lead academic for this collaboration, said:

RTT education is fundamental to the accurate and precise delivery of radiation therapy protocols. At Trinity College Dublin, we are committed to providing the highest quality education to all health professionals working in the field of radiation oncology. We look forward to adding the Trinity expertise to that of the IAEA in tackling this global inequality and ultimately improving patient care. We are privileged that the IAEA has selected us for this exclusive and prestigious partnership with them, based on our track record in this field.

Eduardo Zubizarreta, Head of the IAEA’s Applied Radiation Biology and Radiotherapy Section, said:

Trinity College Dublin has had a solid history of collaboration with the IAEA. One notable achievement was the train-the-trainers programme for radiation therapists we jointly developed, together with the European Society of Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO). This initiative, which saw its 11th edition in 2019, has been an important driving force in the recognition of the radiation therapist profession, particularly in Europe.

Radiation therapy is necessary for 50-60% of all cancer patients at some point in their cancer care and is responsible for 40% of cancer cures, whether on its own or in combination with other therapies.

The Discipline of Radiation Therapy, at Trinity’s School of Medicine is a recognised world leader in radiation medicine education. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in radiation therapy, and has an active research programme, Applied Radiation Therapy Trinity (ARTT).

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

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