|Helena Lan Summer 2014 ROP
What is research like? If you had asked me this
question several months ago, I would have answered, “You wear a lab coat and
goggles while mixing chemicals or observing organisms. Hopefully something
interesting will happen, so that you get to publish your findings!” Well, after
participating in the Research Opportunity Program (ROP) at the University of
Toronto, I discovered that medical imaging research is more than just
pipetting, and is all the more exciting!
So what kind of research is conducted in the medical imaging world? For my ROP, the objective of my project was to evaluate the roles of the non-invasive imaging modalities for diagnosing carotid stenosis. Hence, I engaged in online literature research of the various imaging techniques for assessing this disease. In this process, I also learned to use Zotero to manage all my references, which provides an easy way to generate a bibliography (when the software doesn’t crash every time you open it). After gathering all the pertinent information, I then put together a review article suggesting how a change in the current imaging approach could potentially improve clinical outcome. Who knew a report could be compiled without doing the lab grunt work?
Wait, so this is all a radiologist does? Sitting in front of a computer and typing all day? Of course not! During our time at Sunnybrook Hospital, we got the chance to chat with a radiologist and discovered that she could decide whether patients should be released after taking a look at their diagnostic images. Pretty powerful, eh? That’s not all. We also found out how radiologists identified any abnormalities in patients, as we had the opportunity to work with the VesselMass software which allowed for the delineation of the lumen and vessel wall of arteries on MRI images. Oh, and did I mention we observed an MRI and an ultrasound examination of the carotid arteries, and even got to perform an ultrasound scan ourselves. Super cool!
Still craving for more of my ROP experience? Check out my timeline infographic! You will find all the things I learned and all the fun I had there. Last but not least, I’d like to shout out a big THANK YOU to Prof. Pascal Tyrrell and Dr. Eli Lechtman, who guided us every step of the
way. Also, I’m very grateful to Dr. Alan Moody for including us in his research program at Sunnybrook, as well as other members of the VBIRG group who gave us the chance to
participate in various activities. My summer would not have been this fun and meaningful without all of your help!
Have fun researching,
|Hershel Stark, MED YSP 2014 Student
Throughout the month of July, I participated in a research program with the Division of Teaching Laboratories within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. I was assigned to work with Prof. Pascal
Tyrrell and the Department of Medical Imaging, and spent the majority of my time with the Vascular Biology Imaging Research Group (VBIRG) at Sunnybrook Research Institute. I would like to discuss my experiences, what I gained from the program, and how I can take those skills with me into the future.
Essentially, the program was composed of presentations and shadowing opportunities in which I was introduced to various imaging modalities used in both the clinical and research fields. I primarily studied MR imaging, but was nevertheless exposed to other modalities including ultrasound and CT. Towards the end of the program, I had two principal objectives: to present my experiences to the VBIRG group and to design an infographic for displaying. Below is a copy of my infographic:
Notwithstanding the abundance of knowledge I gained from studying the subject content, I acquired a variety of essential research skills by partaking in the program. Shadowing proficient researchers as they collected
and analyzed data provided me with a thorough insight of a researcher’s methods and techniques. The researchers that I worked with appropriately explained their individual roles on the research team, which led to my understanding of the significance of collaboration in scientific and medical research.
One last aspect of the program that I would like to address is the daily workshops that were conducted by two instructors from the Division of Teaching Laboratories, Jastaran Singh and Jabir Mohamed. Each of these brief workshops focused on an important general topic relevant to research in general, ranging from discussing common scientific practices to elaborating on literary research. I believe that the combination of skills and knowledge that I obtained from all elements of the program will be useful in my potential
research career in university.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank all of those that contributed to making the program a truly enjoyable and intellectually stimulating experience. I would like to extend my gratitude to
Dr. Alan Moody and the members of the VBIRG group for allowing me to shadow their research projects, as well as to Prof. Pascal Tyrrell and the Department of Medical Imaging at U of T for constructing the program and offering much assistance in the formation of my infographic. Finally, I’d like to thank Dr. Chris Perumalla and the Division of Teaching Laboratories in the Faculty of Medicine at U of T for formulating the research module of the Youth Summer Program, and Jastaran Singh and Jabir Mohamed for providing guidance as instructors throughout the program.
Best of luck in all of your future endeavours,
As first year Radiation Thearpy students here a The Michener Institute, we are currently in our 4th week of clinical placements! As promised, here’s a little update about the experiences Jennifer and Ori are going through at Princess Margaret Hospital.
Jennifer: I’ve been placed in Unit 10 which specializes in treating patients with Genitourinary, Gynae and Lower Gastrointestinal cancer.
Ori: I’m on Unit 14 and we treat breast cancer and palliative cancers.
We are proud to say that we are enjoying our experience here. Our duty as students in training is to follow the radiation therapist and learn what they do. The job of a therapist is to treat cancer using a machine called Linear Accelerator (Linac) to deliver ionizing radiation. Patients will typically come once a day for the next couple of weeks, so we see the same patients every day and therefore really get to know our patients well. There is a fair amount of patient interaction, which is one of our favorite parts of the job. Along with patient interactions, we also get to use the equipment, which mainly includes operating the Linac machine (the machine that delivers the radiation) and taking X-rays or CT scans to make sure the patient is in the right position. Every day is a new experience and we are constantly learning new skills. We get a better insight of the patient’s perspective during the entire span of their radiation treatment. For example most patients in unit 10 are required to have a full bladder and empty rectum. Having to hold their pee can be quite difficult for some patients, especially when there are delays, which pushes Unit 10 to be a very fast paced environment. Overall our first 4 weeks of clinical has been an exceptionally valuable experience and we’re looking forward to our next 4 weeks!
Until next time!
Jennifer and Ori
(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.
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,
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.
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!