WSU Applebaum Radiation Therapy Technology students honor outstanding clinical mentors

RTT students and mentor
Othman Saleh (holding plaque) with WSU Applebaum students Katya Lyzhina and Christina Belanger, as well as Zachary Fisher (left), WSU Applebaum RTT alum Rani Raeed Jamil '22 and Richard Hall.

by Assistant Clinical Professor of Radiation Therapy Technology Alisa Kagen

Every year in honor of National Radiologic Week, our Radiation Therapy Technology students nominate two therapists who go above and beyond to help with clinical instruction, mentoring and being a terrific role model in the field of RTT.

This year’s honorees are Othman Saleh at Henry Ford Health and Brad Witt at Mercy Health in Perrysburg, Ohio. We think it is special because radiation therapists who are in the clinics do not always get the recognition they deserve.

The senior students nominated Brad Witt as an outstanding mentor, instructor and role model. Matthew Leone spoke for the class, saying:

Brad Witt
Brad Witt

Brad is a great teacher. He never shied away from my questions, and really took the time to help me become a better student-therapist.

Additionally, Brad made clinic days so much fun, we laughed often, he was so easy to talk to, and we walked through various types of treatments to enhance my knowledge on them. Brad and the other therapists at Mercy Health made us feel like valued members of their radiation therapy team.

Brad gave me a glimpse into what life as a radiation therapist looks like. I’m very glad to have rotated at Mercy Health and to have been treated as more than just a student therapist.

The junior students nominated Othman Salah as an outstanding mentor, instructor and role model. Krina Riebschleger spoke for the class, saying:

When I learned that we had the opportunity to honor a therapist for National Radiologic Week, my thoughts immediately turned to Othman.

Although I've had the privilege of meeting numerous exceptional therapists during my clinical experiences, none have gone as above and beyond as Othman did. I met and worked alongside him during my initial semester at Henry Ford. Like most first-semester students, I was apprehensive and unconfident in the clinical setting. Othman made it evident from Day 1 that I was a top priority. He ensured that I consistently had hands-on experience, inquired about what I wished to practice each day, and always wanted to boost my confidence.

RTT students with mentor
Othman Saleh with RTT juniors Katya Lyzhina and Christina Belanger

While most people would not count a student as a head in the room, Othman would say, ‘Krina's here today, so we'll definitely be ahead of schedule.’ He made me part of their team instead of drawing a line between students and therapists.

Additionally, he was amazing to watch in his interactions with patients. Othman possessed a unique ability to engage in meaningful conversations with anyone, exuded an easygoing and kind demeanor, and never failed to bring a smile to anyone's face. Any patient would be fortunate to have Othman as their therapist.

One moment I’ll always remember was when I asked to practice running a treatment on a specific patient and was feeling a bit nervous beforehand. While I waited in the room for the patient to come in, I heard the music over the speaker system suddenly change to Taylor Swift. When Othman came in, I asked who changed the music, and he replied, ‘I did. You're a fan of Taylor Swift, right? I want to make sure you feel comfortable and not nervous.’ A few weeks prior, I had very briefly mentioned around my group of therapists that I loved her music, and he remembered.

A therapist like Othman is a rarity and it’s hard to capture everything in just a few paragraphs. As I look forward to graduating in 2025 and embarking on a career as a radiation therapist, I'll always attribute part of my abilities and knowledge to him.

Radiation therapists have a unique opportunity to blend the knowledge and skills of mathematics, science and psychology in their daily work. Radiation therapists operate sophisticated radiation equipment to treat malignant tissue, assist in designing cancer treatment through the use of 3D computer-generated calculations, recognize when a patient is having additional medical problems that require a doctor’s attention and provide psychological support for patients who are dealing with the stress of their illness. The bachelor of science in Radiation Therapy Technology is offered through Wayne State’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences with an application deadline of Nov. 30

An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 24,000 students.

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