Bellarmine gained a new degree program in the health sciences, radiation therapy, when St. Catharine College in Springfield, Ky., closed in July 2016. Radiation therapists collaborate with oncologists to deliver ionizing radiation to patients to eradicate diseases, primarily cancer.
The Bachelor of Health Science in Radiation Therapy, housed in the Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Clinical Sciences, includes coursework in radiation therapy physics, medical dosimetry, radiation biology, oncology pathology, patient care and clinical radiation oncology. Students also do clinical rotations at a variety of centers.
But at Bellarmine, radiation therapy students have the added benefit of cutting-edge technology known as VERT—the Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Trainer. Sort of a flight simulator for cancer treatment machines, VERT lets students practice the skills they will need in the patient treatment room before they ever do a clinical rotation.
Bellarmine bought the VERT from St. Catharine when the program came over, said Carol Scherbak, assistant professor and chair of Radiation Therapy, who also transferred to BU. Not only is the technology new to Bellarmine, she said, “it’s new technology, period! It’s only been in the U.S. for about four years, and I have one of the first ones in this country.”
VERT “revolutionizes radiation therapy education at both the student and practitioner level,” she said. “This state-of-the-art three-dimensional technology gives students the necessary knowledge for a more in-depth approach to treatment delivery, radiation therapy physics and treatment planning.”
Photos by Jessica Ebelhar