I came to the Trinity open day while I was in Fourth year and went to lots of talks, one of them was on something I had never heard of before titled, “Radiation Therapy”. From the minute the talk began I was hooked and I left that day wanting to be a Radiation Therapist. Two years later I sat my Leaving Cert and that September I started college as a Junior Freshman Radiation Therapist. This course has and continues to, push me to my limits in all the best ways. I don’t think anyone that has ever studied Radiation Therapy would try and say that it is an easy course, or that it is not a very work-intensive course (believe me it is), but I am also yet to meet a Radiation Therapist who would say that it wasn’t worth it in the end. During my time spent in hospitals, I have learned things that cannot be taught in lecture halls and met some extraordinary people in the form of patients and staff who have helped to motivate me throughout my studies. I often get asked “But, isn’t what you do really sad?” and to most people’s surprise, the answer is no, not usually. It is sometimes, but overall, it’s quite a happy experience (weirdly). We get to cheer people up when they feel down, support them throughout their therapy and we often get to know our patients very well. It is for these reasons and more that I look forward to the rest of my studies here at Trinity
As I enter my Senior Sophister year, I find it difficult to believe that almost four years have passed since I first walked through the front gate of Trinity College. Time has flown, but it would be misleading of me to say that the workload wasn’t substantial and that there were periods when the course work was piled high, multiple deadlines loomed and myself and my classmates thought that we would never see the light of day. However, in this course, you will be exposed to a broad array of modules from physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry and anatomy in the Freshman years to treatment planning, localisation and verification and radiation physics in the Sophister years. So while the course is very broad, it is nicely integrated so that it builds a larger picture of science and the human body while encouraging understanding of different cancer treatment techniques. One of my favourite things about Trinity is how willing and enthusiastic the lecturers and professors are when it comes to helping undergrads achieve their goals or broaden their knowledge. Success in this course requires application and hard work, both while studying and when in practice. However, it brings great rewards in terms of job satisfaction, as it involves a combination of science and human interaction and numerous career opportunities. Sometimes we get bogged down with the intensity of the course, but in my opinion, the greatest feature of the course is the clinical experience gained over the four years. The patients we meet are incredibly resilient and optimistic and engaging with them is both inspirational and humbling. The honour of becoming part of their journey through one of the most challenging and life changing events they will experience while helping them through their illness is possibly the most compelling aspect of this career.
This course, whilst being a very focused and niche course, also provides a broad and diverse education of biochemistry, anatomy, treatment planning, physics and principles of cancer care with clinical applications and placement included throughout. It begins broadly with basic sciences and human anatomy but as you progress through the years, it provides an in-depth knowledge of radiotherapy and an opportunity to bring together medical and physics principles and apply these to patients’ treatments. Admittedly, it is a tough course with long hours and a heavy workload, but friendships formed at college and remembering the importance of what you do get you through it. I think we have all formed a close rapport with the lecturers within the department and radiation therapists on placement who help you through the course. When you become more knowledgeable throughout your time at college, an immense satisfaction is achieved when you can apply your knowledge and skills to a clinical situation, and you make a difference to a person whose life has been forever changed by their diagnosis. A simple interaction with any patient can have the most profound effect and change how they view their diagnosis and journey and it’s these interactions that show the significance of what you do and the impact you have on these people’s lives.
As I enter my Senior Sophister year, I find it hard to believe that I first walked through the doors of Trinity College almost four years ago. Time has most certainly flown but there were times when the course work was piled high, deadlines loomed and I, like many other students, thought that we would never see the end of the day let alone almost four years slipping by. It would be very misleading of me to say that the workload isn’t substantial and that the hours aren’t long because unfortunately, they are, particularly as you progress to the Sophister years. However, there is such a diverse range of subjects to be covered throughout the four years from basic Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry in the Freshman years to Anatomy, Treatment Planning, Simulation and Principles and Practices of Cancer Care in the Sophister years that you are continually learning. But for all the long days and seemingly never-ending deadlines when you get out on clinical practice (in-built throughout the four years) and get to experience and participate in the technical aspects of the job, implementing your new found knowledge, it all becomes so worthwhile. I found that the greatest reward is in the people you meet while on placement; both the staff and the patients. The patients are so resilient and optimistic in the face of their illness. Clinical practice allows you to engage with them, you become part of their journey through one of the most difficult and possibly life changing illnesses and the satisfaction of knowing you helped them in that journey, for me, is second to none.