I am so happy to be in a program at BCIT that has mandatory student work placements. I have just completed my first month on “Clinical Experience 1” at the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island and let me say in all honestly it beats being in class! I am a Radiation Therapy student which, upon graduation will place me in a dominantly hands on career that plays an import role in cancer patients’ treatment journeys. To be brief, Radiation Therapists are health care professionals who plan, prep and administer radiation treatment to cancer patients. To be blunt, they work with large complicated machines that accelerate electrons to a fraction of the speed of light until they collide with a target and produce high-energy photon (or electron) beams that can be shaped, manipulated and modulated to strike and kill cancer cells. As riveting as that sounds when learning about it in class, it is even more interesting being surrounded by it on a daily basis. As a first year radiation therapy student I am currently fighting the urge to already be an expert and know everything there is to know. In reality I have a lot to learn and luckily a lot of time to learn it! I will be observing, learning and practicing my skills at the BCCA Vancouver Island from now until December before returning to the classroom at BCIT. In that time I plan to share with you what it is like, not only to be a Radiation Therapy student at BCIT (one of 7 in my class) but what it is like to be a BCIT student who is actually 120 km from the physical campus of BCIT!
I would like to start with what it is like to be one of only seven students in the entire program. To state the obvious, you get to know each other really well, really quickly. On top of that your teachers get to know you really well really quickly. This is a huge advantage in a program that is as demanding as this one. There is a lot of opportunity to ask questions and get one-on-one time with the instructors. In reality, the best part of being in a small class is that everyone gets their own desk! Last semester I had my own desk and two comfy swivel chairs; one for me and one for my bag.
Because I am part of such a tiny class and all of my classmates are from the lower mainland, I am uniquely the only student at the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre. I anticipate this will be advantageous for me. I have the entire Vancouver Island Radiation Therapy staff around to answer all of my questions and teach me what I need to know. So far things are going very well. I have already learned and observed a diversity of treatment techniques and had lots of opportunity to interact with patients. The most rewarding part of it all is, even though I am just a student (I have to introduce myself as one when I meet new patients), I have still had multiple patients thank me and even remember me the next time I see them. That is something about this profession that I find really special, there is endless opportunity to develop rapport with patients.
So hopefully over the next few months I will be able to depict a clear picture of what Radiation Therapy students have to face on their clinical placements and overall what it is like to be BCIT students going through this program. So far, so good.