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Northern Exposure

30 January, 2019
Atiyah and Thameena
Atiyah and Thameena

Good friends and fellow therapeutic radiography students, Atiyah Patel and Thameena Patel, currently in their final year at City, University of London, visited Canada last Summer on elective placement, spending a week at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, one of the largest cancer centres in the world.

“We were both really interested in doing a placement abroad because we wanted to see what radiotherapy was like outside of England and the NHS. After doing a lot of research, we decided to apply to the Princess Margaret,” Atiya said.

Thameena added: “I had heard many good things about the centre and thought it would be a great idea to check out their radiotherapy department, and to see the similarities and differences regarding treatment. I made contact with the clinical co-ordinator who helped us with the application process.” 

While they were there, both students were rotated around different treatment machines and treatment units for the week. Each machine has a dedicated team that specialise in a specific area and there is a treatment unit for breast patients, one for head and neck, and one for paediatrics. They also had the opportunity to do treatment planning.

“The hospital works quite differently from the UK; radiographers tend to specialise in treating certain sites, eg head and neck, breast, GI, paediatric and so on. There are three or four linacs in each department to treat cancers in specific regions, hence the rotation,” Thameena said.

“It was nice to see the use of different equipment such as the HexaPOD system and actually being able to partake in set-ups, which helped our understanding and learning. As the PMUH is specifically for cancer patients, their resources are extensive, with 16 linacs, two CT scanners and a whole floor dedicated to just planning. The department is so large, I kept getting lost!” she added.

“The paediatric treatment unit was my favourite as I hadn’t observed paediatric radiotherapy in London,” Atiya said.

“I'd love to experience working in other countries and that's a great thing about our degree, we're able to travel across the globe and have that opportunity to work abroad,” commented Thameena, “It was a rewarding way to spend the summer after an intensive year two.”

Advice for other students planning to work abroad
Atiya: Start planning and researching hospitals very early (even a year in advance). Prepare a good CV and a personal statement to send off as part of your application. The key is to be really organised and persistent.

Thameena: I would say get in touch as soon as you can so you can start booking your trip away, and try to spend some time in the country after the clinical experience has ended to sightsee and absorb everything it has to offer.

Chris O’Sullivan, lecturer and clinical lead for radiotherapy at City, University of London commented, “The radiotherapy team at City are immensely proud of how proactive Atiyah and Thameena have been in securing their elective placements in Canada, as well as their charity work in aid of Syrian refugees. We are confident that their passion to broaden their clinical experience and altruistic attitude will be of greatest benefit to the profession and patients alike.”

Find out more about working abroad and about overseas placements in developing countries.

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