Michener Institute Series: Clinical Placement Site – Kingston Ontario

(Kingston City Hall)
It has been a month since the start of summer clinical placement, and I am currently
completing my placement in Kingston General Hospital (KGH) here at Kingston, Ontario.  Kingston is a nice beautiful town located at the north side of the entrance of outflow of St Lawrence River from Lake Ontario; it was the
first capital of Canada when Canada was still a province of British colony.
KGH host one of the most eastern cancer center in Ontario and it has a beautiful view because it is situated by the side of Lake Ontario, its front entrance open to the water. It is a perfect place for lunch and enjoys the sun during summer time.

      (KGH cancer centre front entrance)    
Park by water, in front of cancer centre)

The past month was phenomenal, words cannot fully describe the knowledge and experience we gain from clinical practice. The transition from purely academic to hands on
practice is eye-opening and a bit hectic; because each patient is unique and no knowledge from books can prepare you how to interact with all patients.  It is interesting to learn from the therapists, the way they educate patients on their first day of treatment, the type of approach to each patient base on the assessment they do during the conversation with them. It’s amazing how much compassion the therapists have for patients and how much they care for them.
During the first two weeks in CT simulation unit, I made my first mask and had my own mask made for treatment to head and neck regions. The mask is made of pliable plastics. They come in as a sheet of plastic in a frame, and are put into a warm/hot water bath for 2-4 minutes to makes it pliable, after the mask is taken out of the warm water bath there is a 30-60 seconds window before it hardens. The therapist takes out the mask, tower dry it as much as possible and covers it on patient’s head as fast as possible.  The therapists are very efficient at their job, but what is amazing are the patients going through the process; imagine a warm and moist piece of plastic cover you face, harden in an instant and lock your head into position, and afterword you cannot move for 5-10 minutes for CT scan. I never had thought of the discomfort till I experience it myself.


(My 1st  mask, can kinda see my face print)
So far the experience here is amazing, and hopefully the coming June will be equally fantastic as well.
Till next time.



Acting 101 – Radiation Therapy Role Play Exercise

Michael Douglas: actor extraordinaire!

How is acting and radiation therapy related? Here at the Michener Institute, there are actual actors coming in to perform as our patients during patient care simulation and practical assessments. This is very helpful and fun at the same time as we get some experience with “patients” and if we make any mistakes, all can be corrected before going into the real world. This can spare us some embarrassment – the first time I talked with a patient actor, I could not think of what to say so “I am drawing a blank” just slipped out of my mouth! At the end of the debrief, the actor told me I could have just pretended to know by acting like The Thinker! Looking sophisticated and deep in thought.

Beside the patient actors coming in, we also do role play in patient care labs – free acting lessons! Just the past Tuesday, we had a role play class for scenarios in patients with special needs. Some students are just natural actors/actresses, sometimes I wonder why they are not in acting. The class was very fun and educational and allowed us radiation therapy students to learn how the patients will react and how we can respond. Anyway, I wish I had video to show you how fun it was. If you are interested, you should apply to Michener next year and experience it yourself…

Until next time,


The Michener Institute – What is a “Michener” Anyway?

What is the Michener Institute? Where is the Michener Institute? As students here at the Michener Institute, we get these questions a lot! So let’s start with a brief introduction. The Michener Institute is located right in the heart of the Toronto hospital district, just behind Princess Margret Hospital. It is an applied health science establishment specializing in many health related disciplines. These include chiropody, respiratory therapy and radiation therapy, just to name a few. Jennifer Vuong, Gordon Wang & Ori Wiegner, the three amigos, are all part of the Radiation Therapy program!

People have many misconceptions when it comes to radiation and its applications. The first thoughts that come to mind usually relate to atomic bombs or microwaves. People rarely think of the medical applications of radiation, such as cancer treatments, diagnostic x-rays and CT scans. The variety of uses for radiation is astounding!

This summer we are all excited to take part in our first ever clinical placements! Jennifer and Ori will be attending Princess Margret Hospital and Gordon will be attending Kingston Regional Cancer Center. We will continue to blog about our student experiences at Michener and very soon about our individual hands on experiences at our placements!

For more in information regarding the radiation therapy program visit: The Michener Institute – Radiation Therapy

Jennifer, Ori, and Gordon.

Interview with the (research) Devil

Interviews, the most loved and hated type of activity for all, from the powerful, skeptical, God-like interviewers seeking information to the innocent, intimidated and incapsulated interviewees, seeking a break. So many emotions happen when two people meet for the first time, in the interview setting. I definitely know what it’s like to be put in the hot seat, as the one word I felt coming into my own interview with the University of Toronto for this program – terrifying. I was completely terrified. New offices in the heart of Toronto, I felt like a small town girl moving to the big city alone. It was almost a coming of age experience – one small step into the building, yet one giant step for the adolescent-adulthood phase I am now transitioning into. 

         As I went up the elevator and pressed the fourth floor button, I almost could not contain myself. But the scariest part of the whole ordeal was probably the moment before I found the right office. Of course, I stumble into the wrong office, and when asking the woman working there for Dr. Tyrrell, the interviewer, when I saw the look on the woman’s face that I was in the wrong place, my heart dropped. Of course, when finally meeting with Dr. Tyrrell and discussing the program, all of this fear and anxiety disappeared at the drop of a hat, but the point is, interviews are a type of research, so research can be quite adventurous! 

Stay Adventurous and Keep Reading!  

Faith Balshin