Graduate Profile - Sandra Tea
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
(MRS Class of 2019 - Radiation Therapy)
What did you study before joining the MRS program?
I studied Life Sciences for one year at the University of Toronto prior to joining the MRS program. Although these programs minimally overlap, I feel that I refined an approach to learning and studying which prepared me for my time in the MRS program, especially for our more content-heavy courses.
While at UofT, I contemplated what I’d do after undergrad. I knew I wanted to quickly get out onto the frontlines and care for others, so through my own research, the MRS program sounded like the perfect fit.
How did the MRS program prepare you for success?
During patient care labs, we enacted scenarios with patient actors, allowing me to develop natural dialogue and problem-solving skills while gaining exposure to both common and difficult scenarios encountered in the profession. As well, the third-year clinical practicum has you on the frontlines with real patients, their families, and staff, immersing you in your future profession. Moreover, having professors and lab instructors who were knowledgeable of current practices and wanted to see their students succeed really made a difference.
We understand that you were recently recognized by a patient’s family member for providing excellent care, can you tell us about this experience?
I was in my last week of training for my position at Princess Margaret when I brought in a patient and his daughter for his first day of treatment. First days can be nerve-wracking, and that can be further exacerbated by barriers such as language.
In healthcare, our work is patient-centered. To hear from the patient and family perspective about how I personally impacted their experience was so moving, and truly reinforced my dedication to this profession.
What is the most rewarding part of being an MRT?
For me, I think it’s the ability to care for patients during what can be a very difficult and vulnerable time. As a radiation therapist, you have the privilege to see patients throughout a part of their cancer journey.
What is your average day like?
I work an 8-hour day, either from 7:30 am – 3:30 pm or 10:30 am – 6:30 pm. Radiation therapists work in pairs, often in a team of four staff on one unit. My main daily activities consist of accurately and safely treating and assessing patients and providing side effect management. We also have non-patient-facing tasks including programming patients' treatments and image guidance, and ensuring proper and complete documentation in their electronic charts.
What are your plans for the future?
I foresee a fulfilling, rewarding career as a radiation therapist at Princess Margaret. As I recently became dual certified with an MRI license, I hope to take advantage of the technological advancements at our cancer centre and work on both our MR-Simulator and MR-Linear Accelerator.
As well, I want to continue my personal hobby of dance. I think it’s important for me to have an artistic outlet, so dance brings balance to my life through creative and physical means while allowing me to spend time with friends in a team setting.
I hope to continue to extend into teaching/education, may it be through MRS, dance, or other channels.
What did you enjoy most about the MRS program?
I’m so thankful for the friendships I made through the MRS program. These are like-minded people who are sharing this experience with you in the same boat, and they might even be your future colleagues!
What advice would you like to share with prospective MRS students?
Michener is truly an institution full of opportunities, so take advantage of them! So many of the staff here are well-associated with hospitals and centres across Ontario (and beyond), so I encourage you to ask questions and form connections. Moreover, there are several clubs, committees, and volunteer opportunities at Michener, so give something a shot! They can be a fun and fulfilling way to help you meet other students and staff, and can make you a more well-rounded applicant for your future endeavours. Good luck!
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For more information about the Radiation Therapy stream of the MRS Program visit https://www.radonc.utoronto.ca/radiation-therapy.