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My Participation in the Advanced Radiotherapy Masters Course: Blog, Episode 1

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María Cecilia Atencio Rosselot, Radiologist, Mendoza, Argentina.

María Cecilia Atencio Rosselot is a radiologist in Mendoza, Argentina. This year she is participating in a Master’s course in Advanced Radiotherapy in Chile at the Arturo López Pérez Foundation with the support of the IAEA. María Cecilia will be sharing her experience of the course through a series of blog posts.

Versión en españolMi Participación en el Máster de Radioterapia Avanzada: Blog, Episodio 1

Santiago, Chile, August 2017: Ten weeks of the twelve months of study in Santiago de Chile have already passed. The beautiful and well-organized city of Santiago has welcomed us warmly, and its huge oncological hospital has generously opened its doors to us.

For those who don’t know, we are a group of 14 radiation oncologists from various countries in Latin America. The IAEA has provided us with the opportunity to sharpen our skills at the Arturo López Pérez Foundation. This large institution, under the direction of Dr. Raúl Marsiglia, is internationally renowned for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The course curriculum is endorsed by the excellent University of Los Andes.

When we arrived in Santiago, we were greeted at a formal ceremony attended by various national and international authorities. At the event, speakers highlighted that this Master’s course is the first of its kind in Latin America, and the first to be entirely funded by the IAEA. 

Although it is called an ‘International Master’s in Advanced Radiotherapy’, and is taught by the Foundation’s Radiotherapy Department, what we are learning and sharing during this course goes far beyond the topic.

During the first trimester, which has been dedicated to bringing all students to the same level and to sharing experiences in our daily radiotherapy activities, we have learned that this region has many disparities in radiotherapy and faces a lack of opportunities. This is not only linked to the financial difficulties inherent in acquiring highly complex technological equipment, but also to gaps in human resource training, caused by similar difficulties in gaining access to the technology.

Given that this is the context we must work in, we are studying both old and new methods of radiotherapy, bearing in mind that older methods are still in use in many of oncological centres in the region. It is essential to take these disparities and challenges into account before we begin to understand and use modern equipment to its full capacity. This can only be achieved with the precise guidance of our tutors and Professor Dr. Ariel Fariña, who recognize the challenges we face, and are determined to make sure we get the most out of our time attending the course.

The IAEA’s recognition of such regional obstacles and its willingness to invest resources in addressing it is of the utmost importance – without this support, it would have been impossible for any of our centres to access such training, and certainly not for a whole year. This course is only the beginning – in order to achieve results, the course will have to be repeated year after year so that more professionals can be trained. As students, it is our duty to share the lessons we are learning, and to examine all the possibilities there are to improve our machines. This will mean that advanced radiotherapy is not just a title, but becomes a truly equal accessible form of treatment – a new reality delivered to our patients through increasingly effective and safe forms of treatment.

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