Author: Cheryl Turner
I’ve always had a strong passion for education, learning, and growing. A lot of that stems from the fact that I strongly believe in investing in myself. When I was in middle school, I was chosen to take an advanced exam in Algebra. I couldn’t understand why it was math and not biology. The night before we were to travel to a neighboring state for the pencil and paper exam, I participated in track practice. I suffered an accident; yes, I tripped while running. While trying to fly over the hurdles for the very first time, I fell and fractured my right humerus. I am right-handed and found myself in a large plaster cast, so putting pencil to paper was out of the question. The school district allowed a classmate to travel with me and transcribe the problems and answers as I dictated them. I had been tutored for the exam, allowing for me to be ahead of my class in mathematical concepts. Trust me, the math gig did not last long as I very quickly discovered I had a sharper aptitude for the sciences but, on this day, I had worked for advanced knowledge in the subject. My classmate looked at me quizzically when I would request that she make notation of numbers and formulas. I pushed her just as I had pushed myself. We were not going to let a clumsy inconvenience stand in the way of proving just how much I had mastered.
Fast forward a couple of decades, or more than a couple, after being in the profession of radiation therapy and serving as a professor for quite a while, I was introduced to proton therapy and was instantaneously in awe. The science and the technicalities were so different from conventional radiation therapy. Full disclaimer, I have never worked clinically in a proton therapy department, but I spent lots of hours learning, studying, researching and writing about the things that I observed while being present among proton therapy professionals. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. The educator in me knew that there should be something else; there should be a formal path of education for those who possessed the knowledge and the skillset of practicing proton therapy professionals. The nuances are vast and should be taught, learned, and fully mastered.
Advanced education for proton radiation therapists and proton dosimetrists is needed and is wanted by the profession. It took a long time to get to the point that we could bring all of the entities together for the creation and development of structured education, which proves the advanced knowledge and technical skillset mastered by those practicing professionals and those desiring to enter into the specialty. With support from professional societies, including the AAMD, the team at Legion Healthcare Partners has established proton therapy educational programs to ensure that personal and professional goals are surpassed.
I believe I have been training for this since the broken arm Algebra exam. I have pushed myself to learn and grow so that I can provide opportunities for others to learn and grow. I have mastered a new way of thinking to better advocate for those who wish to master educational and technical concepts.
Education is an investment in one’s self, in the proton therapy profession, and in the best interest of patient care. Now is the time to invest in yourself, to push yourself, and to prove yourself. Don’t let anything stand in the way of exceeding your goals.