Becoming an Advanced Practitioner: The Changing Identity of the Radiation Therapist

Kristie Matthews, Gillian Mary Duchesne, Marilyn Baird

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Purpose: Radiation therapy advanced practice has been reportedly implemented in several international jurisdictions, however is yet to be comprehensively integrated into Australian radiation oncology services. A doctoral research study has determined many factors that may be influencing the scattered implementation of radiation therapy advanced practitioners (RTAP) in Australia, including conceptual, structural and functional concerns. The research indicates that one of the key factors influencing the implementation of radiation therapy advanced practice – successful or otherwise - is the changing identity of the radiation therapist in becoming the advanced practitioner. Methods: Ethics approved data collection occurred via national online focus groups, and during interviews and observation at five purposively selected clinical case study locations. Qualitative data analysis was informed by grounded theory methodology. Results: The role of the radiation therapist is well established within each radiation oncology service. The self-concept of the radiation therapist and accepted concept of that individual by others within that environment is generally understood. Research data indicate that the successful introduction of a RTAP in a service can be influenced by the acceptance or rejection of the altered concept – or identity - of what a radiation therapist could and should be. Where the self-concept of the radiation therapist in becoming an advanced practitioner is accepted by the individual, and agrees with the concept understood by colleagues, the implementation of an advanced practice role is more likely to be successful. Conversely, where either the self-concept of the RTAP in not accepted by the individual, or if the self-concept of the RTAP is not in alignment with that of managers, oncologists or peers, the introduction of such a role may not reach anticipated potential or be sustained. Conclusions: This paper will explore how becoming an advanced practitioner may influence the integration of radiation therapy advanced practice within a service. The research suggests that even when the RTAP education, training and clinical experience are fit for purpose, unless expectations around the changing identity of the radiation therapist are perceived equally by all, successful implementation of advanced practice may be inhibited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S11
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
EventLeading the Way in Radiography Advanced Practice (LTWRAP) 2018 - Michener Institute, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 20 Oct 201821 Oct 2018

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