Radiation therapy students receive hands-on training and provide care at different locations in Alberta

Keri Sweetman - 15 September 2019

When Kristi Ngo, '18 BScRT, applied to the radiation therapy program at the University of Alberta, she had no idea she would be spending most of the last year of the program back in her home city, Calgary.

It couldn't have worked out better.

Ngo landed a job at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary after doing an eight-month clinical placement there.

Every U of A radiation therapy student now has clinical placements at both the Cross Cancer Institute (CCI) in Edmonton and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC) in Calgary, as part of a partnership developed by Susan Fawcett, director of the program.

"Students need a full scope of competencies and exposure to different technology and work teams, and they wouldn't get that at only one cancer centre," said Fawcett. "It is in both the patients' and profession's best interest to have students do training at multiple Alberta Health Services sites."

Within the next five years, the plan is to include shorter clinical placements at smaller cancer centres in Alberta, such as the Jack Ady Centre in Lethbridge, the Central Alberta Cancer Centre in Red Deer or eventually at a new facility in Grande Prairie. A new cancer-care centre is also being built in Calgary. Discussions have already begun on how to train more radiation therapists for when it opens in 2023.