Radiotherapy Students in Canada

BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy

As a result of a successful cooperation between the Department of Radiography & Radiotherapy at Birmingham City University, Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health Authority in Canada, five BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy students, including Abigail Hanley, Andrew Johnson, Supriya Singh, Jodie Furby and Lily Aston were offered an exciting opportunity to undertake a four week experiential placement in Halifax, Canada.  

Motivation

canada radiotherapy group

“The university arranged for us to visit Canada to undertake a placement within the radiotherapy department. I was extremely interested in this opportunity as once qualified Canada is potentially a place I would like to work.” Abigail Hanley

“I have always been interested in visiting Canada and know they have excellent healthcare particularly in radiotherapy, so I wanted to go and work in a department so I could see the differences/similarities to working back in the NHS.“ Jodie Furby

Highlights

“It was great to see the other techniques practised by the department, the different pathways they utilise and the different care services they offer. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate, the department as a whole was an inspiration. We also made the most of our weekends off, we hired a car every weekend and explored all that Nova Scotia had to offer; sea kayaking, whale watching, hiking the Cabot Trail, visiting the historic towns of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, swimming in lakes and singing round campfires in Kejimkujik National Park.“ Lily Aston

“I loved being in the hospital working. The staff were amazing and I have never felt more welcome in a department before. I also loved exploring the country as it is so different to back home, I tried different foods and explored different places across three provinces.” Jodie Furby

“From day one, I was welcomed into the department and felt very much as part of the team. Although the staff had never met me they had the utmost confidence in my abilities and found myself doing things not permitted by students in my home placement site, which included actually delivering the radiation treatment. Of course the weekends, hiring a car and exploring the beauty of this part of Canada was fantastic!” Supriya Singh

Similarities and differences between Canada and the UK

“Professional practice Nova Scotia, was much more relaxed than the UK. This isn’t relaxed in a bad way, it was in a way that work was not what their life revolved around. Radiation Therapists were also much more willing to engage and educate students, hence why I feel so much more confident in what I do. There were big differences in radiotherapy techniques and even organisation within the department. However, in my view these were all very good differences!" Supriya Singh

“The care pathway in Nova Scotia is both different and like that in the UK. Nova Scotia Cancer Centre was the main hub for cancer care for all the Maritime Provinces and so patients could travel up to 3hrs to get to their radiotherapy appointments. However, the population of Nova Scotia is smaller than that of Birmingham, and the smaller population means quicker turn-around times for patients. The wait between consultation and simulation CT was usually 3 days, whereas in practice over here it is about 2 weeks.” Lily Aston

Achievements

“I have definitely improved my clinical skills during the four weeks in Halifax. In particular the area of image matching prior to delivering the treatment. My exposure to this in the UK has been limited whereas in Canada I was matching the vast majority of patients. This certainly has improved my anatomy (bone and soft tissue) knowledge. I have also decided on my final year project which before I went was debating which area to go down. Within two weeks of this placement my idea was cemented.” Andrew Johnson

“CONFIDENCE! I learnt so much out in Canada. Not only educational skills, but also life skills. By visiting somewhere different, it opened my eyes up a lot to how diverse Radiotherapy is and how much it has to offer. Canada is somewhere that I would definitely visit again and potential have a working life out there.” Supriya Singh

“I learnt a great deal during my placement in Canada, mainly due to the helpfulness of the staff. We were able to appraise images and treat patients a lot more than I have on placement in the UK. I learnt a great deal about new techniques and the new equipment they are using, which we could start using over in the UK in the near future. I am seriously considering working in Canada once qualified.” Abigail Hanley

Advice to students considering going abroad

“Apply! Make sure you do a bit of research beforehand so you have an idea of what to expect when you arrive and brush up on the different dose regimes/drugs they may use. When thinking of a budget, always over budget as you don’t know what might happen when you are out there and even the simplest of medications can be expensive.” Lily Aston

“Just grab the bull by the horns and go for it. You will develop your clinical skills, life skills (including choosing, cooking and de-shelling lobsters!), make great friends, see a part of the world that you may never have thought about visiting and above all have a great time and make some wonderful memories.” Andrew Johnson

“Make sure you organise everything well in advance (flights, visas, travel insurance) as prices can really increase if you leave it all to last minute. Go with friends or make friends! It will really make the experience so much more fun.” Jodie Furby

Canada radiotherapy collage