During our third and final year of the BCIT Radiation Therapy program, we are spending the fall semester in the classroom as the final push before our last clinical experience. During this time, we are taking an Imaging Technology class. This class goes over the theory and technology of various imaging modalities that are important for radiation therapy. These modalities include PET (positron emission tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography). Radiation therapists work directly with CT scans which they use for treatment planning and non-diagnostic purposes. As for MRI and PET, radiation therapists look at the images they produce to help with the planning process but they rarely part of the actual image acquisition.
After we went through the course material on MRI and PET scanning, we went on a little field trip to see how it is all done. Both the PET and MRI departments at BC Cancer Vancouver Centre were kind enough to give us permission to come into the clinic and watch a few scans take place. The PET department gave each student in our class an individual appointment and gave us a one-on-one tour of the department, followed by the opportunity to observe a patient who was injected with the radioactive tracer and put through the PET scanner. Following this experience, we went to the MRI department and had the opportunity to watch part of an MRI scan as well as ask lots of questions about what was going on.
I was very thankful for this experience. I spent 3 months on the radiation therapy floor at BC Cancer Vancouver this past summer and never had a chance to see a PET or MRI scan performed. I think it was very helpful to my education, and the education of my classmates to see where and how these types of images are done and to get a more complete picture of the entire patient experience!