Hometown: Stirling, Scotland

 

About You

Before starting this course I was working as a project manager for a pharmaceuticals company in the Edinburgh area, having a completed an undergraduate degree in Immunology and Microbiology and a postgraduate diploma in Information Technology. When the site I was working in closed down I took some time off to travel and decide on a new career path. While I enjoyed my work, it wasn’t a job I felt was particularly satisfying. I had always wanted to work with people in a more caring capacity, something my previous job did not offer me. As is unfortunately the case with many, my family has been touched with cancer and I decided to look into the possibilities of potentially working in that area.

While researching jobs in this sector I came across the role of a radiotherapist. As I looked further into what the job entailed it seemed liked the perfect combination of providing a service, caring for and working with others as well as offering me the opportunity to challenge myself to learn a new skill set and knowledge base. I looked into what qualifications were necessary and which universities offered appropriate courses. Admittedly it was the fact that QMU offered a two year postgraduate course, which wasn’t an option with some other universities, that first attracted me to this university. However as I read more about QMU it became clear that its health science programmes were comprehensive and well respected. The fact that it was close to home, became an added bonus for me.

 

"This course will offer me a career change. One that will hopefully align more with the personal and professional goals I wish to achieve for myself."
Nicola Logan

The Course

This course will offer me a career change - one that will hopefully align more with the personal and professional goals I wish to achieve for myself. I was slightly apprehensive about returning to academia having been out of education for a number of years. The prospect of studying a new subject matter was also initially daunting however I found that the work load, while intensive, was manageable. I do believe that perhaps a more mature attitude to study that a postgraduate may have does help with this. There are also a number of resources available to you to help with this transition. The library is a great source of information, both in terms of the electronic and physical resources available to you, but also the services provided by the library staff who are also willing to help. The greatest support I received however was from the teaching staff. Not only were they knowledgeable and resourceful on the source material, but they went above and beyond to help support every student with any issue, academic or personal. In my undergraduate course the student intake was so large that lecturers did not have much direct interaction with students. This made the course seem impersonal. This was certainly not the case in this course. Each lecturer knew each student which made it easy to ask for help or support if it was required. This was something I truly valued.

I personally did not work during the course but there were a number of people in my class who did. If you manage your time wisely and plan ahead, having a part time job is certainly not prohibitive to doing this course.

A large amount of this course is conducted in the workplace. The academic side is of course important, but it is the ‘on the job’ experience that you gain from being on placement, which for postgraduates is up to five months in the summer, that really gives you an insight into the job and what is required of you. I personally found this extremely useful. I think the course struck the right balance of book based learning, to give you the background information and confidence to be in a clinical environment, with the on the job skills and knowledge you obtain while being on placement. I believe this will serve me well and act as a solid base for when I graduate and join the workplace.

The one tip I would give to future students is just to be prepared. Self-study is an important aspect of this course. The lecturers are of course there to guide and help, but a lot of impetus is placed on the student to be responsible for their own learning. Reading lists and learning materials are provided but I would advise students to check the scheme of work and read up on subjects in advance; this way the student led tutorials will be a real benefit.

Other than that I would just say enjoy the course. I found the subject matter interesting so enjoyed the source material but for me the main thing about this course was the smaller classes and the personal aspect this afforded. I really appreciated getting to know the lecturers a little, and them getting to know you and take an active role in your progression. The support and encouragement this allowed really made the experience enjoyable and was totally different from my previous experiences.

 

Life after Graduation

My main objective once I graduate is to get a job. Having worked in a number of hospitals during placement (at least in Scotland) the location doesn’t bother me so much. Ideally I’d like to gain a few years’ experience while working towards my master’s. I’d then like t work abroad for a few years, potentially Canada or New Zealand.

 

Story published 2016-2017

 

Radiotherapy and Oncology (Pre-Registration)

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