Dr Lachlan McDowell
Radiation Oncology Registrar
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
My first encounter with Radiation Oncology was during a rotation as a junior doctor. I was inspired to continue with Radiation Oncology during that time due to the level of professionalism, compassion and commitment to patient care demonstrated by the whole multidisciplinary team, and in particular the Radiation Oncologists. Radiation Oncology is a very rewarding profession – every day and every patient brings new and unique challenges. I also enjoy the multidisciplinary approach to patient care. We work closely with a strong team of passionate professionals, including other oncology specialists and specialised nursing and allied health staff who are all committed to improving the care of cancer patients.
I saw Radiation Oncology as a career which provided many opportunities. The therapeutic use of radiation is an important part in the curative treatment of many cancers, but it may also provide significant relief of pain and other symptoms to people with incurable disease, and providing this service can be very rewarding. The implementation of new and emerging technology into practice also inspired me into the profession. As technology continues to be refined and radiotherapy becomes increasingly targeted, the side effects of radiation treatment continue to decrease. The Radiation Oncology community also has a strong commitment to research and the potential to balance a rewarding clinical career with ongoing participation in academic or research activities also motivated me to pursue a career in this profession.
I attended school in Home Hill, a small rural town in North Queensland near Townsville where I studied Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and English. I started a basic science degree at the University of Queensland for one year before transferring to a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Radiations Technology at the Queensland University of Technology to become a Radiographer which I completed in 2000. I worked for three years full time, until I was accepted into Medicine at the University of Queensland where I graduated in 2007. I spent one and half years as a resident before starting a six month locum position in Radiation Oncology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. I commenced my formal specialist training in Radiation Oncology at the Townsville Hospital in 2010 and after 18 months I transferred to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne to complete my specialist training.
What I enjoy about my career in Radiation Oncology is knowing that you can make a difference in people’s lives every day that you go to work as well as the ability to actively participate in clinical trials and be a part of the ongoing progression of cancer care. An added bonus of the job is that Radiation Oncology training involves virtually no shift work and limited after hours, weekend and on call work which unlike many other medical specialty training programs allows sufficient time to achieve a good work-life balance as a trainee.