University of Vermont

Radiation Therapy Major Selected for Student Leadership Development Program

Jacqueline Berkoski, '15 to attend American Society of Radiologic Technologists Annual Conference

Radiation therapy major Jacqueline Berkoski '15
Radiation therapy major Jacqueline Berkoski '15

As a first-year student, Jacqueline Berkoski knew she wanted to pursue a career in the health care field; but she was unsure where she fit in.

Admitted to UVM’s medical laboratory science program, which focuses on the development and performance of laboratory tests in hospitals and public health centers for the assessment of health and diagnosis of disease, Jacqueline shadowed a medical laboratory scientist on the job. She quickly realized that her interest in the physical sciences and hands-on practice would be fulfilled in the field, but her desire to interact directly with the people she’d be helping would not. Further investigation revealed the radiation therapy program offered the opportunity she craved: Radiation therapists deliver treatments regularly over time, observing patients’ clinical progress and developing close relationships in the process. Jacqueline transferred into the program and found it to be a perfect fit – offering simultaneous opportunities for scientific practice and hands-on patient interaction. Radiation therapists serve as patient advocates, and often, as friends.

“Besides the basic caring and compassion for others, one very important quality for radiation therapists to have is being able to listen,” Jacqueline said. “Our patients are our main priority and no one knows better how they feel then they do.”

Jacqueline also appreciates the community of health care providers she has encountered through her clinical experience in radiation therapy at Fletcher Allen Health Care, where professionals from varying medical disciplines work together on a patient’s behalf.

“On a daily basis you are not only interacting with patients, but also doctors, nurses, social workers, physicists, and dosimetrists. You have to be open to other people's ideas and input, ultimately working together to do what's best for the patient,” Jacqueline said.

When Jacqueline's advisor, radiation therapy program director Jane Alsofrom, mentioned the American Society of Radiologic Technicians’ Student Leadership Development Program, Jacqueline saw another opportunity: To grow personally and professionally while establishing relationships with others in her field.

“I couldn't think of a better way to get to know more about the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the people involved who share the same interest and love for helping others,” Jacqueline said. “Putting yourself out there and gaining experience from others is the most important way of gaining knowledge, aside from the classroom.”

As a selected delegate, Jacqueline will receive an all-expenses-paid trip and an insiders’ look into the nation’s largest association for medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals during the 2014 ASRT Educational Symposium and Annual Governance and House of Delegates Meeting, which takes place June 26-29, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. Jacqueline is the first student from UVM to receive this honor, which she sees as another opportunity on the path to her career. 

“Cancer affects a lot of people. I have personal connections with family and friends going through treatments now, and who have had cancer in the past. This makes me eager to start a career where I can make a difference in peoples’ lives,” Jacqueline said.