Another great article from the AIR’s Spectrum magazine [Volume 21 (3) April 2014, pg 25] talking about the benefits of working in the country…
Rural placement in Cairns
In October of last year, after a long and dreary Adelaide winter, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to undertake four weeks of clinical placement in Cairns. The idea of spending time in one of Australia’s best holiday destinations where it is “beautiful one day and perfect the next” was certainly enticing, and it is safe to say Cairns did not disappoint!
Aside from the ideal location and glorious weather, my clinical experience at the Cairns department of Radiation Oncology Queensland (ROQ) proved to be extremely beneﬁcial in the ﬁnal stages of my studies. Having also previously carried out a placement in Townsville, I have found rural placements (especially interstate) to be an excellent opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge and experience a diversity of different techniques and equipment.
A rural placement does not mean missing out on exposure to cutting-edge technologies and techniques. ROQ Cairns opened in June 2012 and the department has a great modern design and a focus on maximising the potential of its new technology. The department has two state-of-the-art Varian Linacs, Aria and Eclipse. I was able to gain experience in working within a completely paperless department, and utilising technology such as CBCT, IMRT and VMAT, some of which I had yet to experience in previous metropolitan placements.
Another advantage of rural placements is that often the departments are smaller and take fewer students than larger centres; in my case I was the only student. In my experience, staff in departments that take fewer students are generally more enthusiastic about teaching, which deﬁnitely aids the learning experience. I was allocated time to sit in on Radiation Oncologist consults and nursing reviews, and everyone was extremely generous with their time, enabling me to gain a better picture of a patient’s entire journey.
I found the staff at Cairns to be a very tight-knit group; not just the Radiation Therapists, but the entire multi-disciplinary team and it was a great environment to work in. One characteristic of regional departments is that many staff members are not local to the area, and as a result there is a great social scene within and outside of work. Cairns had a particularly active social club so there were always events happening, and lots of cake in the tea room!
So to anyone considering a rural placement, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough; there are great beneﬁts to stepping outside your comfort zone and spending time away from family and friends. The staff at ROQ were all very welcoming and made it very easy for me to get completely involved in the department for the short time I was there. After completing my degree last year I was even lucky enough to be offered a position in Cairns which I commenced in January, and now (aside from the occasional cyclone scare) I get to experience perfect weather all year round!