Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice

Original Articles

A qualitative analysis of radiation therapy students’ professional placement journals

Naomi Findlaya1, Shane E. Dempseya1 c1 and Helen M. Warren-Forwarda1

a1 Medical Radiation Science, Hunter Building University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia


Purpose Student experience on clinical placement is not well captured with traditional program evaluation tools. This study aims to complete a qualitative analysis of the reflective clinical journals completed during professional placement by radiation therapy (RT) students in order to uncover the issues that affect students on placement and how these change as the student's progress through the program.

Materials and methods A qualitative descriptive analysis (QDA) was undertaken on the descriptive content of student journals completed by 97 students over 3 consecutive years while undertaking professional placement in Radiation Oncology Treatment Centres within Australia. Two coders used a QDA sourcebook specifically designed for the research to independently analyse the descriptive content of the reflective journals for four main categories and 18 subcategories.

Results The result revealed a statistically significant increased tendency to discuss clinical environment and a decreased tendency to discuss the patient, 92·9–12·5% (coder 1) and 85·7–18·8% (coder 2), as they progressed through the program.

Conclusions The results of this study showed some similarities with studies completed in other health professions; however, the breadth of issues explored within the content of these RT student journals demonstrates the true diversity of the RT student experience on professional placement.

(Received May 05 2011)

(Revised July 01 2013)

(Accepted July 02 2013)

(Online publication August 15 2013)


  • qualitative analysis;
  • radiation therapy;
  • student journals


c1 Correspondence to: Shane E. Dempsey, Medical Radiation Science, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Tel: +61 (0) 2 49216667. Fax: +61 (0) 2 49217053. E-mail: