Susan Merchant

Current position: Senior radiation therapist /research officer

Years qualified as an RT: 35 years

Research qualifications: PhD (Curtin) 2012

Research areas of interest: Patient-centred care, communication and information provision, patient preparedness for radiotherapy, research implementation in clinical practice, immobilisation and improving patient treatment outcomes.

Who encouraged you to get involved in research and who do you go to for advice when you need it?

I have a professional mentor and my previous principle supervisor.

What sort of activities/studies have you been involved in?

Data collection, supportive care and clinical research.

What is you greatest research achievement?

Undertaking research in Melbourne and Adelaide long distance… with my supervisors located in Perth.

Why and how did you get involved in research?

The decision to undertake further study was made with the intention to “make a difference” in radiotherapy.

How do you balance research/work/family life?

This is an ongoing challenge two years post-PhD because the quest to be involved and “make a difference” is fuelled by more questions than those that have been answered. Therefore, I make sure I spend time with my family on a regular basis and take time out for self-care too.

How did you find a mentor/supervisor?

I was fortunate to meet Georgia Halkett and several other researchers who took me on as their challenge.

What was your supervisor’s best advice?

Take some time to absorb constructive feedback and see it as a gift that will enrich your work/behaviour/presentation etc.

What do you enjoy most about being involved in research?

I enjoy the opportunity to be involved with positive changes, the opportunity to improve patient treatment outcomes and the endless networking opportunities in radiotherapy, academia, and other health disciplines.

What has been your biggest challenge or barrier to being involved in research?

I think that the lack of recognition of the utmost importance of research in our everyday work by a number of colleagues has been an ongoing challenge for me.

What one piece of advice would you give other researchers?

Enjoy the journey as much as seeking answers because it is enriching not only in the work you undertake but also provides a wider viewpoint as both a professional and individual.