Think Outside the Bunker

15813_Ruby Bola
Ruby Bola is a Radiation Therapist at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre.

So you’ve graduated! You are now a licensed Radiation Therapist. What happens next? The job market isn’t great and as the time without a job increases, the more frustrated you might become. But stay focused and stick with it! Once you get your foot in the door, there is a whirlwind of opportunity that awaits you! When you are new to the field, it’s time to make your mark and decide what kind of therapist you want to be. As a new therapist myself, I think we newbies often undervalue our skill set and shy away from various projects. So my advice to you is, seek the opportunity – just say yes!

Think Outside the Bunker
During our didactic courses, there is a high emphasis on treating patients and managing their side effects. When you start working in the field, you see that Radiation Therapy expands beyond that. Being at the front lines of health care presents us with a unique opportunity: we see first-hand the practices we are doing well and the gaps that need to be addressed, and most importantly, we have direct access to patient feedback. This is where innovation begins! This experience gives us valuable insight that can contribute to changes around your centre.

Just Ask
Our colleagues are a wealth of knowledge. They have been in the field for many years and can tell you about the days of conventional simulators or when they manually had to insert wedges into the head of the machine! They have seen a lot of progress in the field of radiation therapy and have probably contributed to many changes, which makes them excellent mentors. I’ve learned that if you take the initiative to approach colleagues with the intent of being involved, they are always willing to help and if they cannot, they will connect you with the right people. During Christmas time in a casual conversation with my team lead, we discussed ways we could help others as a centre.  A food drive came to mind, we made a few phone calls to get permission and before we knew it, a healthy competition with the nursing staff led us to donate over 1000lbs of food to the Toronto Daily Food Bank! Don’t be afraid to seek opportunities, don’t be afraid to ask!

Just Say Yes
There are numerous activities that happen in centres that range from organizing luncheons to social events to policy change committees. Don’t be shy. Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!  Getting involved in such activities introduces you to other health-care professionals and further develops your relationship with your colleagues. This becomes the beginning of your network. The next time a project comes up, one of these colleagues will keep you in mind and who knows what will end up at your door step!  I was approached to help develop an abstract. I had never written an abstract before. I was approached to write a blog. I had never written a blog before. The first thing I did was say yes; the second thing I did was frantically Google ‘how to’ guides to ensure I hadn’t put my foot in my mouth! I also reached out to colleagues for help and advice. It all stemmed from going out of my comfort zone. By saying yes, I have built relationships with other professionals in organizations beyond the cancer centre.  It’s important to start saying yes — yes to growing your network, your experiences, and yes to growing your career.

When you say yes, you begin to frame your career and the type of therapist you will become known as. Your career is what you make of it, and it begins with asking yourself what kind of therapist you want to be and what you want from the profession. Saying yes to opportunities that pique your interest helps you answer that question.

Radiation Therapy has many facets. You have the opportunity to make a direct impact in someone’s life, you get to meet great people, hear interesting stories and can be a contributing member to the evolving field if you should choose. Start by saying yes and watch what doors open. What kind of therapist do you want to be?

Written by: Ruby Bola, RTT
Ruby Bola is a Radiation Therapist at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre where she was recently awarded the Oncology Health Innovation Fellowship and is involved in the Patient Experience Committee, GYNAE Peer Review Site Group and a University of Toronto Interprofessional Education Facilitator. Ruby graduated from the Michener Institute for Applied Sciences and University of Toronto in 2014 and is surprised at how fast and loud opportunity has knocked since then. Ruby is an avid baker and a loyal Toronto sports fan (Toronto Maple Leafs included!).


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