Annual Bootcamp an international affair


The specialty of radiation oncology has evolved tremendously in the past two decades, especially when it comes to the technology used to treat cancer patients.

Radiation treatments that were once based on x-rays are now based on very modern imaging technology, such as CT scans, MRI scans and PET scans. This technology helps to design the radiation treatments.

However, in order to use these advancements in a successful way, radiation technologists must be able to look at the scans and determine where the tumour is, and where all of the important structures of the body are that they want to avoid with radiation — a challenging task if medical professionals are not fully equipped with proper anatomical training.

About five years ago, Dr. David Palma, a clinician-scientist and radiation oncologist at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, was speaking to a resident named Dr. Jasbeer Jaswall who expressed concerns about the teaching she was receiving.

“Dr. Jaswall pointed out that the program had not kept up with the changes in our specialty,” Dr. Palma said. “After that conversation, we did a survey across Canada to see if others were getting enough anatomy teaching, and they felt like they weren’t.”

This feedback inspired Dr. Palma to make a change.

In 2011, he piloted the Anatomy and Radiology Contouring Bootcamp for Radiation Oncology Residents, which provided anatomic, imaging and contouring instruction. Bringing together anatomists, surgeons, radiologists and radiation oncologists to teach anatomy and how to outline anatomic structures on scans was a huge success, and has since expanded into an annual course that welcomes 40 residents from all over North America, South America and Europe.

“We find that the residents who come from outside of Canada bring new ideas and approaches that are valid and sometimes even better than what we are doing here,” Dr. Palma said. “This Bootcamp also gives us the opportunity to share our ideas and to get new perspectives on how to do things.”

The three-day Bootcamp combines lecture format with hands-on anatomy teaching and is the only course offering the hands-on anatomy teaching in a multidisciplinary approach for residents.

Dr. Palma explained the biggest takeaway residents can get from this Bootcamp is confidence in their skills and education.

“Students who find anatomy intimidating enjoy this Bootcamp because they leave with greater learning,” he said. “A lot of anatomy can be really intimidating, but because we cover so much lecturing and hands-on learning with immediate feedback, they can come away with it realizing that they can have a good grasp of something they previously thought was very difficult to understand.”

This year’s Anatomy and Radiology Contouring Bootcamp for Radiation Oncology Residents will take place from October 31 – November 2, 2018 at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre. Registration opens on May 1, 2018. Click here to learn more.