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A Career In Radiation Oncology

Radiation oncology is an intellectually challenging and exciting career with a range of opportunities in the public and private sectors as well as in the academic sphere. It combines the best aspects of direct clinical management of patients of all ages, with a technologically-advanced and continually evolving treatment modality.

Radiation Oncology is a unique specialty at the cutting edge of patient care, technology and research.

Radiation Oncology is made up of three unique medical specialties that focus on the treatment of cancer patients with radiotherapy treatment (also known as radiation therapy); namely Radiation Oncologists, Radiation Therapists and Radiation Physicists. These professions involve the following;

• Radiation Oncologist - a medical doctor who completes training to specialise in the management of cancer patients, specifically using radiation therapy.  Radiation Oncologists use cutting-edge technology and work in teams with other doctors to create and deliver radiotherapy to patients.
• Radiation Therapist – a health professional who designs, calculates (plans) and provides the radiation dose to patients and is responsible for ongoing patient care and wellbeing of the patient and their family over the length of treatment.
• Radiation Oncology Medical Physicist – a scientist who creates, implements and monitors the delivery of radiotherapy, taking into account the protection and safety of patients and others involved in the treatment process.

For further information about these careers, please visit

For information on a career as a Radiation Oncologist, please refer to the information below.

A Career as a Radiation Oncologist

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiation Oncology training program runs for five years, conducted in two Phases. Phase 1 of between 18 - 24 months and Phase 2 of approximately 36-42 months duration (depending on the trainee's progress through Phase 1.

Potential candidates need to meet the College’s prerequisite requirements which are identified below and have secured a training position within an accredited training department.

Radiation Oncology Training Brochure

Discover Radiation Oncology Video 

Selection of Trainees in Radiation Oncology

Accredited training positions are advertised by each training centre throughout the year. The RANZCR is not directly involved in the selection and appointment of trainees, but provides some criteria for employing bodies to consider in their selection of trainees.

Selection criteria for Radiation Oncology trainees in Australia and New Zealand


  • Able to be registered with the appropriate State Medical Board or the Medical Council of New Zealand
  • Minimum of two years clinical experience post-graduation
  • Shows dedication to and interest in pursuing a career in Radiation Oncology
  • Good inter-personal and professional communication skills
  • High standard of academic performance


  • Shows personal commitment to continuing professional development
  • Satisfactory professional referee reports
  • Satisfactory reports from previous and current employers
  • Shows an interest in and commitment to research

In recent years, there has been intense competition for positions. Selection depends on undergraduate medical course results, previous interest as demonstrated by relevant electives, publications or presentations, performance as an intern/resident based on references and an interview. 

Training Departments or training sites are accredited based on their capacity to provide appropriate training and educational opportunities for trainees.

There are currently a number of departments accredited for radiation oncology training in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (as of February 2010). A listing of these departments can be found on the website.

Radiation Oncology Public Register of Accreditation

How to become a Radiation Oncologist

Radiation Oncology Registrars:  

Pre-requisites for Entry into the RANZCR Radiation Oncology Training Program

To be accepted into the College’s training program, a candidate must:

a) Have appropriate basic medical qualifications:
- be a graduate of a medical school recognised by a medical board in Australia and the Board of the RANZCR (or have successfully completed both Part I and Part II AMC examinations for overseas medical graduates in Australia)


- be a graduate of a medical school recognised by the Medical Council of New Zealand and the Board of the RANZCR (or have successfully completed the NZREX for overseas medical graduates in New Zealand)


- be a graduate of a medical school recognised by the registering authority of the country in which the RANZCR training program is conducted and the Board of the RANZCR


b) Be fully registered as a medical practitioner by the registering authority recognised by the Board of the RANZCR, in the state or country in which the RANZCR training program is conducted


c) Have completed at least two full years in an approved hospital as an intern/resident.

As a general rule, the College encourages experience in a broad spectrum of clinical
disciplines prior to undertaking radiation oncology training.

Senior Medical Officer (SMO):  

Registrars = doctors who have been accepted into an accredited specialist training program in a clinical specialty with a nominated college. See RANZCR Radiology Registrar Pre-requisites above.

Principal House Officer (PHO) = 3rd and subsequent post graduate years. A PHO is a medical practitioner appointed as such who is not undertaking an accredited course of study leading to a higher medical qualification. A PHO position is an equivalent level to Registrar.

Resident Medical Officers (RMO):  

Senior House Officer (SHO) = 3rd post graduate year. A SHO is a medical practitioner in the second or subsequent years of practical experience after eligibility for full registration as a medical practitioner and who has not been appointed as a Registrar or Principal House Officer.

Junior House Officer (JHO) = 2nd post graduate year. A JHO is a medical practitioner in their first year of service after eligibility for full registration as a medical practitioner.
Intern = a medical practitioner who holds a certificate from the Medical Board of Australia authorising an appointment as such under the Medical Practitioners Registration Act 2001. Interns are medical graduates who have been accepted into an intern training program under the supervision of their employing hospital. Generally, this will be the 1st year of practice following completion of a medical degree. In this year they must successfully complete various rotations under clinical supervision. 


University Medical Degree:  

Traditionally a medical degree is a six-year undergraduate program leading to the awards of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). Students can also enrol in a dual degree pathways such as Arts/Medicine program which, over seven years leads to an additional award of Bachelor of Arts (BA, MBBS). Further to this there are also graduate entry programs of four years for those wishing to pursue a career in medicine, but this is only available those who already have a Bachelor Degree.