Course report

Foundations of Leadership in Radiation Oncology - PDF Version

19 – 24 May 2021, online

Course directors:

  • Kim Benstead, clinical oncologist, Gloucestershire Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust, Cheltenham (UK)
  • Meredith Giuliani, radiation oncologist, Princess Margaret Cancer Center, Toronto (Canada)
  • Sandra Turner, radiation oncologist, Westmead Hospital, Sydney (Australia)


A physicist’s perspective:

Could you please briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Joel Poder. I am a radiation oncology medical physicist, currently working at St George Hospital Cancer Care Centre in Sydney, Australia. My primary areas of interest include brachytherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and deformable image registration. I recently completed my PhD on the topic of in-vivo treatment verification in high-dose-rate prostate brachytherapy. In my spare time I like to (try to) keep fit, and catch up with friends/family.

Why did you choose to attend this course? (please mention if it’s your European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) course)

I chose to attend this course after hearing great reviews from colleagues, and it did not disappoint!

What aspects of the course were the most interesting and why?

I really enjoyed the quality improvement exercise during the course, in which we were tasked with pitching a quality improvement project to other course attendees. This exercise provided an excellent opportunity to practice pitching a project to a new audience, and will translate into improved communication skills.

Did the course activities improve your knowledge and skills in the relevant subject?

Absolutely. I feel much more confident in my ability to communicate effectively across different disciplines and experience levels. I also learnt a lot about myself through completion of the Insights’ personality profile, and I learnt how I can use my personal traits to understand myself and others better, which I hope will make me into a better leader!

Did the course meet your expectations? If so, how?

The course exceeded my expectations. I did not expect to learn so much about leadership over such a short period. The amount of content that was covered was very impressive. The content ranged from how to lead change, dealing with conflict, and development of skills in quality improvement. I must also credit the faculty for adapting the course to the online format while maintaining the quality of the content.

List three important ‘takeaways’ following the course.

  • Appreciate your opposites. Not everyone thinks and acts in the same way as you do.
  • There are many ways to resolve conflict. Each situation lends itself to a particular style. Be adaptable!
  • There are many qualities that make up a good leader; among them, self-awareness might be the most important.


How will what you have learnt be implemented in your daily job/ clinical practice? (if applicable)

I aim to be more perceptive to the different personality styles within my team, and to make an effort to communicate with them more effectively in a style that is suitable to each. I also plan to use the skills I have learnt from the course to improve my techniques in leading change and during quality improvement projects.

How would you encourage someone who has never been to an ESTRO course to join this course next year/ in two years?

Each and every ESTRO course I have attended has been very valuable to my clinical practice. The Foundations of Leadership course was no different, and will improve my clinical practice across all areas of work.


Joel Poder, PhD
Medical physics specialist
St George Cancer Care Centre
Sydney, Australia