So, myself along with some of my course-mates organised a student-led conference on the subject of radiotherapy. Our first conference was held back in October 2014 and due to its success and excellent feedback, we held a second conference with a theme of Tech-knoweldge-y!
The evening took a lot of organisation as the conference had funding/budget which meant trying to get a lot of donations for refreshments etc. One of my friends, Sarah Smizz took care of the social media aspect of the event, setting up our own website and twitter page as well as creating events on Facebook and making our amazing poster!
We kicked off the evening with some pre-conference activities. After our attendees registered, there was a chance for them to pledge to the fantastic #HelloMyNameIs campaign (a campaign which promotes the act of healthcare professionals introducing themselves and their roles to patients). We were incredibly lucky to have Dr Kate Granger herself come to speak at the first RAD conference and the amount she inspired the people who came was astounding and I know that a majority of the radiotherapy students at SHU improved the way they interacted with their patients because of it. We’ve decided to make it a RAD Conference tradition to have a #HelloMyNameIs photo booth to raise awareness of the campaign, have some fun and share our photos with Kate after the conference! Here are some of the photos from the night!
We also celebrated NHS Change day (which is on 11th March 2015 by the way!) at the RAD Conference. We asked our guests to write down anything they would want to change about the NHS and stick them up on the wall to help each other to inspire change. Here are some of the results!
At 6pm (well, maybe a few minutes later!) the conference kicked off with our first speaker Curtis Parker-Milnes. Curtis is a 3rd year radiotherapy student at SHU who has done some excellent research of his own about whether wearing a virtual reality headset could keep a patient still during treatment. Curtis has presented his research at various conferences already this year and was kind enough to share his research with us. I’m not sure about everyone else, but the fact that Curtis at the age of 20 went out and conducted his own research and contributed to some change is really inspiring.
Our second speaker was Kate Ibbeson who is the voice behind Sheffield Cancer Mafia. This is a twitter account which uses social media as a form of support group for people with or involved with cancer and terminal illnesses. During her talk, Kate showed us a few example tweets and showed that some people tend to open up more or connect with people easier via social media. I know myself, being a bit socially awkward, that sometimes I can communicate my feelings better through writing and social media. Furthermore, I feel that all press around social media is negative and Kate is one of those people who uses social media to benefit not herself, but other people.
After a short break, it was time to introduce our third speaker, Dr Robert Appleyard, who is a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam. His talk was about his PHD research about using virtual learning and its benefits in teaching anatomy in healthcare students. One thing I took away was about the importance of ethics in all research. Rob’s research participants were split into two groups, one group used a plastic model of the brain to revise spatial anatomy before a short test and the other used the virtual learning environment to do the same thing. However, in order to make the study ethical, all students had to have access to the other learning tool as well.
Our final speaker was Hazel Pennington from the Christie hospital in Manchester. Hazel is at the forefront of bringing proton therapy to the UK with new centres opening in London and Manchester (hopefully!). Hazel’s talk showed us that the world of radiotherapy is ever changing. A few examples include the fact that proton therapy patients may have to have an MRI-CT fusion for planning their treatment and that therapy radiographers may get the chance to learn how to do MRI scans themselves by working more closely with diagnostic radiographers. Another example is the extension of the working day. In order to fit in daily QA, time for general anaesthetic for some paediatric patients and the sheer volume of patients that would need to be treated, the department would be working from 6am until midnight, which means introducing shifts which current therapy radiographers may not be used to! All in all, very exciting for all people in the radiotherapy field!
That then concluded the end of the second RAD conference. Myself and my fellow organisers are so proud of our conference but agreed that it should be kept as a second year RONC student thing and therefore will be looking for some eager 1st year students to hand the baton over to! I’m so grateful that I’ve met the people I have through doing this conference and, beneath all the stress, it was really fun too!