Radiotherapy Placement in Darwin

Student Reflection

Course: 

Masters of Radiation Therapy

Placement Location:

Darwin

Year of Placement:

2021

My time in Darwin has been rewarding and challenging. Being based at the Royal Darwin Hospital, the only radiotherapy centre in the Northern Territory, I was able to experience a range of patients and treatment methods.

Professionally I have been able to gain insight into how living in regional and rural areas of Australia changes the way healthcare is provided. Typically living in regional and rural areas results in later stage disease, poorer access to therapies, and worse morbidities. I was interested to see how such factors impact the delivery of radiotherapy clinically. Personally, I expanded my understanding and knowledge regarding regional and rural people. Being based in Darwin I was invested in gaining an awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, culture, and traditions. Those that are Indigenous can be significantly marginalized, having experiences involving such groups allowed me to grow personally to be a better person and practitioner. I have become a more rounded and holistic practitioner as a direct result of these experiences and skill developments. Communication factors, resilience, and Indigenous health knowledge were strong skills I personally developed.

My ability to work efficiently has been challenged given my demanding workload, high patient loads result in demanding work. I was expected to work efficiently whilst maintaining safety of patients. This has greatly improved my time management and clinical skills where I am able to keep up with challenging conditions without compromising safety. This is a vital skill that will benefit my career greatly where clinical efficiency and safety is a highly sought after skill.

Preconceptions and assumptions that I was guilty of making prior to my WIL placement were that rural or remote and Indigenous people have limited health literacy and are unwilling to seek care. What I presumed was disconnection to care by indigenous people was a complicated history involving western medicine, not respecting cultural beliefs, and language differences. This placement has allowed me to not only identify these biases but pushed me to continue to advocate for rural and remote healthcare personally and professionally.

I have a strong interest in providing healthcare to rural and marginalised communities. Gaining experience by working with such patients allowed me to satisfy my interest during this placement. To current students I would strongly recommend considering a WIL placement at some point throughout your studies. There really is no lecture or class that can simulate the experiences you will have. Clinically you will come to realise no two patients are the same and each day can present varied challenges. This placement has allowed me to not only improve my clinical skills but pushed me to continue to advocate for rural healthcare personally and professionally. The ACEN scholarship has eased the financial burden of temporarily relocating regionally. Rather than focusing on the financial aspect of my WIL placement I was able to fully immerse myself in the regional and remote experiences Darwin and the wider Northern Territory has to offer. By shifting my focus away from financial aspects, I could dedicate my attention to my WIL placement, grow as a practitioner, and entre the healthcare workforce as an advocate for regional and remote healthcare.