Michener alumni
Michener alumni gather for a playful photo at Michener's 65th anniversary Homecoming event. (Photo: UHN)​

Michener celebrates its 65th anniversary with Homecoming event

The Michener Institute of Education at UHN celebrated its 65th anniversary Homecoming event with a cocktail reception and lively storytelling entertainment.

The celebration was the perfect opportunity to welcome alumni back to Michener's campus to reunite with classmates and faculty. Some alumni at the event graduated as far back as the 1980s and have seen their profession change and grow over time, making the reunion even more special.

"It was a joy to see our alumni come together at the Homecoming event, renewing old connections and creating new memories," Tamar Kraus, Michener's Development and Alumni Relations Officer, says of the Sept. 28 gathering. "Michener's alumni community isn't just important, it's the very heart of our institution."

The event also raised money for Michener's General Student Bursary Fund to help lift the financial burden for current students as they work hard to complete their programs.

Michener alumni have always been passionate about giving back to the community and supporting current Michener students in any way they can. Donating to the Bursary Fund at Homecoming was another chance to show their support for future health care workers.

It was an honour to raise a glass to toast Michener's history and strong community, Tamar says.

"We're excited to plan many more alumni events and celebrate the remarkable journeys of our graduates," she says.

Dr. Teri Stuckless, (L), Clinical Chief, Cancer Care Program, Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services, and Dr. Andrea Bezjak, Medical Director, Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network. (Photo: Courtesy NL Health Services)

Newfoundland and Labrador joins Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network

Starting this fall, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services becomes the first provincial cancer program in Canada to join the Princess Margaret (PM) Cancer Care Network.

This collaboration will provide enhanced expertise and improved access to cancer care resources, education and research for the benefit of patients of NL's Provincial Cancer Care Program and their caregivers.

"This partnership represents a commitment to delivering exceptional cancer care, not only within our centre but also across Canada," says Dr. Keith Stewart, VP Cancer, UHN, and Director of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "Together, we aspire to push the boundaries of cancer treatment, enhance patient and provider access to education, and elevate the quality of care for all those we serve."​

The partnership will facilitate easier access to resources that support complex cases or rare tumours; priority access and support for research; provision of patient, family, and caregiver resources in a variety of languages; and educational materials, resources, and courses for health care providers, patients, families and caregivers.

"We are excited to join the Princess Margaret Cancer Care Network so that our staff and physicians have access to resources which will help them continue providing the best possible care to cancer patients in Newfoundland and Labrador," says Dr. Teri Stuckless, Clinical Chief, Provincial Cancer Care Program, NL Health Services.

"By collaborating with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, we will enhance access to expert consultation and advice, provide opportunities for education and research, and enable co-operation with national and global experts in the field of oncology."

NL Health Services is the third partner organization to join the PM Cancer Care Network. The other members are Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. and Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont.

"This is an opportunity to broaden the many already existing collaborations between the oncology teams in Newfoundland and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre," says Dr. Andrea Bezjak, a radiation oncologist and Medical Director of the PM Cancer Care Network.

NL Health Services' Provincial Cancer Care Program is responsible for providing services to cancer patients throughout the province, including the operations of the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre in St. John's and the regional cancer care centres in Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander. The program provides chemotherapy, follow-up care and supportive services in several other sites across the province, as well, including tele-oncology services, which provides care to patients closer to home.

The agreement, which was signed by, (L to R), Ivetka Vasil, Manager of Continuing Education at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN; Jane Mattson, Director of Continuing Education at Michener; and Dr. Farah Essa of the Dr. Farah Essa Academy. (Photo: UHN)

Michener Institute signs agreement to bring ultrasound program to Pakistan

The Continuing Education Department at the Michener Institute of Education at UHN, in collaboration with the Dr. Farah Essa Academy, is launching a new Advanced Diploma in Ultrasound program in Pakistan, starting in September 2024.

This program will combine Michener's robust online theoretical education with the Dr. Farah Essa Academy's facilitation of scanning and clinical training in Pakistan. The program consists of seven semesters over two-and-a-half years and will serve as a launch pad for future health care professionals in the region.

Jane Mattson, Director of Continuing Education at Michener, and Ivetka Vasil, Continuing Education Manager at Michener, played a key part in formalizing the partnership with the academy in Pakistan.

"We are excited for this first cohort of students in Pakistan, and we are proud of what we have achieved together," Jane says.

The Advanced Diploma in Ultrasound program has run successfully for many years in the Caribbean, and this provided a strong foundation for the new program in Pakistan.

The goal of Michener's international ultrasound programs is to partner with universities and institutes overseas to help produce competent and compassionate graduates who will excel in their field and contribute to a profession that is in demand in their home country.

Sheena Bhimji-Hewitt, a Michener faculty member and instructor in the Ultrasound Caribbean program, played a pivotal role in forging this new partnership in Pakistan.

"Ivetka and I had been discussing the global expansion of the ultrasound program in Continuing Education, and I was keenly aware of her interest in bringing this program to other parts of the world," Sheena says. "That's when Farah first came to mind – I ended up introducing them to each other."

As a 2002 Michener graduate, Dr. Essa knew that Michener was a natural fit for the ultrasound program in Pakistan.

"Michener has a solid reputation for imparting high-level training to their graduates for health sciences programs, and a high employment rate," Dr. Essa says. "That's what immediately attracted me."

Members of the Radiation Medicine Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre with the new Halcyon linear accelerator, which they added in August. (Photo: UHN)

New state-of-the-art radiation treatment machine added at the Princess Margaret

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Radiation Medicine Program (RMP) has added a new patient-centric state-of-the-art Halcyon radiation treatment machine to its existing cutting-edge fleet of treatment machines.

The Halcyon linear accelerator stands out with benefits such as lower couch height for easier patient access, rapid high-quality imaging for accurate patient positioning, and when combined with efficient treatment delivery, this limits time on the treatment couch for seamless patient experiences.

With the ability to collect images in 15 seconds – about half the time of standard treatment machines – and approximately one to two minutes for treatment delivery, the Halcyon improves RMP's ability to treat a large number of patients using precise image-guided techni​ques.

Beyond patient experience, this new technology, which was added in August, will be used to further personalize treatment by automatically assessing the impact of changing patient anatomy at each treatment session and adapting the treatment plan for future sessions to ensure the delivery of optimal cancer care.

The implementation of the Halcyon treatment unit in the Radiation Medicine Program is part of a larger technology refresh program aimed at innovating in the field of precision medicine for radiation oncology patients.

"We are excited to bring new technology to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which facilitates the delivery of high-precision radiotherapy to cancer patients in a more concise and comfortable visit," says Dr. David Kirsch, Head, Radiation Oncology, Radiation Medicine Program, at the Princess Margaret.

Halcyon radiation therapists collectively describe working with the new machine as "an incredibly positive experience."

"Its user-friendly design and streamlined operation make it simple to operate, allowing our team to provide faster treatments," they add. "This has been particularly beneficial for patients who may be uncomfortable, require a full bladder for treatment or require immobilization devices, as the efficiency of the Halcyon enables them to stay still and receive their treatment with ease."

At the Princess Margaret, there's an understanding that treatment appointments are a huge commitment for both patients and their caregivers in their cancer journey. Using the Halcyon ensures patients and caregivers spend less time in treatments, which is positive as they strive for quality of life outside of the cancer centre.

In line with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre's strategic priority of "Always Moving Forward," there's a move to create new ways to cure and rapidly advance safer and more effective cancer treatments. The Halcyon is an example of the focus on the highest-impact solutions, which will usher the Princess Margaret into a new era of progress in cancer care worldwide.

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