Evaluation of radiotherapy education across the EU and the impact on graduates’ competencies working on the linear accelerator.

Sonyia McFadden, Patricia Mc Clure, Ciara Hughes, Jose Guilherme Couto, Paul Bezzina

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Introduction: Regulation and education of the professionals administering radiotherapy treatments in the linear accelerator varies across the EU. However, how different programme characteristics affect the level of competency of these professionals has never been studied before. This study also aimed to assess which are the least and most developed competencies in radiotherapy across the EU. 

Methods: An online questionnaire was distributed to academic staff teaching radiotherapy across the EU. Staff were asked to identify the characteristics of the course programmes and to classify the level of competency of graduates regarding linear accelerator tasks. 

Results: Fifty respondents from 19 EU countries answered the questionnaire. The least developed competency theme was pharmacology followed by equipment quality assurance and management and leadership. The most developed competency was positioning and immobilisation, followed by radiotherapy treatment delivery and professional and ethical practice. Some competencies are developed at the same level across EU countries, while others vary considerably between member-states. Longer programmes, with more placements, and larger proportions of radiotherapy in the programme showed significant increase in the development of some competencies. Longer placements in skills labs was correlated with a decrease in competency. 

Conclusion: There is no harmonisation of radiotherapy eduction across the EU and the differences in programme characteristics are reflected in differences in competency levels of radiotherapy radiographers. This may hinder movement of professionals and create disparities in the level of care offered across the EU. 

Implications for practice: Longer programmes, with longer clinical practice and adequate proportion of radiotherapy in the course are essential to ensure that these professionals are competent at similar levels across the EU and to ensure patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Early online date14 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 14 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was co-funded by the SAFE EUROPE project under the Erasmus + Sector Skill Alliances programme [grant agreement 2018?2993/001-001].The University of Malta has also provided funding to enable this PhD research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The College of Radiographers

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Competencies
  • Educational programmes
  • European Union
  • Linear Accelerator
  • Radiotherapy


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