Education of therapeutic radiographers in the European Union
: competencies, professional mobility and patient care

  • Jose Couto

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Introduction: Radiography education varies across Europe, potentially leading to variation in competency levels and patient care. This is relevant for European Union (EU) countries, given the free movement of professionals across member states. This study aimed to assess Radiotherapy (RT) education across the EU and its impact on competency, patient care, and professional mobility, focusing on TRs working in the linear accelerator (linac).

Methods: An explanatory, sequential, multiphase mixed-method design was used, following philosophical principles of pragmatism. Document analyses were conducted to identify professional regulations across EU, patterns of recognition of qualifications between member states, and competencies of TRs working on the linac. These results informed the survey design investigating course characteristics and competency levels across Europe. Interviews with European stakeholders further explored the survey results, assessing the impact of education characteristics on professional mobility, competency levels, and patient care.

Results: Education regulation vary considerably between member states, affecting graduates’ competencies and patient care. Competency levels on the linac depend on academic level, use of international guidelines in course design, amount of RT-specific training, number of specialisms in the programme, programme duration, use of simulation, availability of academic staff with RT expertise, and teaching methods, among other non-education factors. However, when learning outcomes (competencies) are regulated, all other factors must be adjusted to achieve these objectives. In certain countries, specific course characteristics, such as low academic level and short programmes, or the lack of professional regulation, hinder the recognition of graduates’ qualifications abroad.

Conclusion: RT education varies considerably across Europe due to the variation in national regulation. Regulation of the learning outcomes and academic level guarantees adequate competency, irrespective of the education model used. Standardisation across Europe could harmonise care and facilitate professional mobility. Irrespective of regulations, education institutions can improve competencies by considering the factors above when designing programmes.
Date of AwardSept 2022
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsUniversity of Malta
SupervisorSonyia Mc Fadden (Supervisor), Ciara Hughes (Supervisor) & Patricia Mc Clure (Supervisor)


  • Training
  • Radiation therapists
  • Pragmatism
  • Explanatory sequential multiphase mixed method

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