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Gwynedd Mercy University has secured a generous grant from the George I. Alden Trust to purchase VERT, a virtual environment of a radiotherapy treatment room for the University’s Radiation Therapy Program. VERT will be purchased and installed this spring, and ready for use by the fall of 2020.
VERT is a state-of-the-art teaching tool that offers a safe, simulated radiotherapy treatment room, complete with 3D views and life-size visualizations. It allows students to look “inside” the patient and to practice, explore, and investigate treatments before entering a real-world clinical experience.
GMercyU’s undergraduate Radiation Therapy Program, the first JRCERT-accredited program* in the Philadelphia area, has been a regional leader since it was introduced to the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions 40 years ago. Once VERT is installed, GMercyU will be one of three schools in the state of Pennsylvania to feature it.
“VERT will change the way we teach radiation therapy,” said Rose Troutman, MS, RT (T), the head of GMercyU’s Radiation Therapy Program. “It will allow us to supplement lectures with a lab that demonstrates techniques, offering students a realistic, hands-on learning experience so that when they begin their clinicals, they’ll be even more confident. We are thrilled to add this cutting-edge technology to our program.”
With the VERT system, students can learn about the imaging of treatment fields, radiation beam characteristics, planning theories, and more. Students will be able to view DICOM (digital imaging communication in medicine) images to virtually set-up a patient on a treatment table, and view the treatment field and vital structures in 3D. Students will be able to observe an intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment as it moves across the patient’s skin and through their internal organs, and they will be able to practice techniques, operating and experiencing everything the linear accelerator accomplishes – except administering a real-life therapeutic dose of radiation.
*At GMercyU, students can earn a four-year Bachelor of Science degree or a 20-month Bachelor of Health Science degree in Radiation Therapy; both are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). GMercyU is known for preparing its students to deliver competent and compassionate patient-centered care, and its graduates comprise the majority of staff in cancer treatment centers in the tri-state area.