Unleashing the next generation of cancer care

Cutting-edge radiation therapy training suite officially opened February 2017 at the Cross Cancer Institute

Ross Neitz - 13 October 2017

A state-of-the-art training suite is elevating the education of Alberta's next generation of radiation therapists. The training suite-operated by the University of Alberta and located in the Cross Cancer Institute-prepares students through hands-on training with a functioning linear accelerator, the same equipment used in radiation therapy treatment for cancer patients.

The facility was created in 2016 with the support of the Ministry of Advanced Education, which contributed more than $7 million to establish the bachelor of science in radiation therapy program in the Department of Oncology at the U of A.

Moving the practice forward to improve health outcomes for Albertans

"We know that as Alberta's population ages and grows, we will need more qualified radiation therapists as part of our province's cancer-care workforce," said Marlin Schmidt, Alberta's minister of advanced education. "This new training suite is revolutionizing the way U of A students are learning, so they can develop the competencies and clinical know-how needed to provide the best outcomes for patients and families."

Applying clinical reasoning to learning scenarios

The training suite's linear accelerator delivers advanced educational opportunities. While its imaging capabilities are intact, the equipment's treatment capacity photon beam (used for therapeutic treatment) has been deactivated, making the suite fully safe for students and staff. The facility also offers its users the built-in ability to record training sessions for both testing and teaching purposes.

"The students absolutely love it," said Susan Fawcett, director of the radiation therapy program. "It's where everything comes together and where their 'aha' moments begin to happen. This is where the rubber meets the road. The students take everything they have learned in their theoretical courses and put it all together in the simulated environment."