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Simulation lab at ProCure helps Ivy Tech train radiation therapists

By Chris Fyall 331-4307 |
February 13, 2010

Students and teachers in white lab coats helped unveil Friday morning the newest collaboration between Ivy Tech Community College and proton treatment centers.

It is a state-of-the-art radiation therapy simulation laboratory housed at the ProCure building, 420 N. Walnut St. Situated between two rooms with different simulation labs — a proton radiation unit, and a CT, or computerized tomography, scanner — it establishes the ProCure building as a unique teaching resource, said Larry Swafford, professor and chairman of the radiation therapy program at Ivy Tech's Bloomington campus.

"No other place in the country has that," said Swafford, of the CT and proton combination. "No place in the world has the proton center."

The simulator was purchased by Ivy Tech with a $100,000 grant from Clarian Health, said John Whikehart, chancellor of Ivy Tech-Bloomington. ProCure installed the simulator, and agreed to lease the room where it sits to Ivy Tech for $1 a year.

Market rate for the space would have been about $60,000 a year, Whikehart said.

"The simulator, combined with other resources provided by ProCure, gives Ivy Tech students unique opportunities for education and training that do not exist anywhere else," he said. "We are fortunate to have these resources exist in one place, making Ivy Tech radiation therapy graduates both nationally and globally competitive." Some of the school's radiation students were on hand Friday for the ceremony. Matt Prince is a Bloomington native who is just finishing up his education, which he says has prepared him well.

He applied for work at a proton center in Oklahoma last month, and got a call back this week, he said. Things are looking good.

As part of his own education, he never got to work hands-on with such therapy machines. The collaboration unveiled Friday should make things easier for future students, he said.

"We did not have a whole lot of hands-on work with it," Prince said. "This is going to be great for the incoming students."

Since Ivy Tech opened its radiation therapy degree program in 2006, it has graduated 24 students from its introductory course and 13 students from its proton certificate program, Swafford said.

Larry G. Swafford, chairman of the radiation therapy program at Ivy Tech, explains the operation of a new proton therapy simulation machine established by the college at ProCure’s training and development center in Bloomington. The equipment produces a proton beam for targeted treatment of cancerous tumors. David Snodgress | Herald-Times