When she becomes a radiation therapist, Natalie Peck will use powerful X-ray beams to kill tumours and cancer cells in her patients.
Called radiation therapy, the treatment is one of the main treatments for cancer – in fact, more than half of all people diagnosed will see a radiation therapist like Natalie.
Natalie will eventually work with a team of radiation therapists and doctors using CT scanners, to create treatment plans and help decide the right radiation dosage to give each patient. Right now, in her Bachelor of Radiation Therapy at QUT, Natalie’s learning how to give treatments by using some cool tech – like the linear accelerator.
“This is the main machine used to treat tumours in cancer patients using external beams of radiation,” Natalie explains. As a linear accelerator is worth millions of dollars and radiation beams are dangerous, students like Natalie go through simulations in a treatment room at QUT.
Virtual reality 3D-technology immerses students in a virtual environment with life-sized radiation therapy equipment and even virtual patients to learn and study on!
“I found it amazing that from Gardens Point campus I could do everything that is done in a typical hospital treatment room,” Natalie says.
Skills all round
As well as the technical side of things, communicating with people is also essential for her future job so Natalie’s also learning how to provide emotional support to patients during their cancer journey. “My goal is to be part of a professional team making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.
Natalie has been passionate about science and maths since high-school and says a career in STEM “just made sense” to her, but she’s learnt a lot about the healthcare industry along the way.
Natalie’s advice to future students is to research the limitless pathways that a career in STEM offers and investigate the opportunities that STEM students are offered – specifically at QUT.
Natalie’s study path to becoming a radiation therapist
- Year 12, Ferny Grove State High School
- Certificate III in Hospitality
- Bachelor of Radiation Therapy, QUT
Author: Gemma Conroy
Gemma is a freelance journalist with a passion for making science accessible to everyone. Gemma has a degree in biology from Macquarie University and loves sharing amazing discoveries with the world.