Introductory Radiation Oncology Curriculum: Report of a National Needs Assessment and Multi-institutional Pilot Implementation

Jillian R. Gunther, Rachel B. Jimenez, Raphael L. Yechieli, Akash Parekh, Abigail T. Berman, Steve E. Braunstein, Ariel E. Hirsch, Erin F. Gillespie, Neha Vapiwala, Charles R. Thomas, Emma C. Fields, Daniel W. Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess the optimal structure of an introductory curriculum (IC) for radiation oncology residents, including the perceived utility of a 2-day off-site “boot camp,” and evaluate the success of a pilot introductory radiation oncology curriculum (IROC) based on these initial data. Methods and Materials: In the first phase, anonymous, web-based surveys were sent to US radiation oncology program directors and residents. Likert-type scores (1, not at all; 5, extremely) are reported as the median and interquartile range. Using the phase 1 results, IROC was developed, piloted, and evaluated. Results: Of the 89 program directors and 697 residents, 47 (53%) and 165 (24%) responded, respectively. Of the 89 program directors, 37 (79%) reported offering a formal IC. However, only 83 residents (50%) reported having a formal IC. Program directors reported resident preparation for clinical training as “moderate” (median 3, interquartile range 2-3) on entering residency and “moderate” (median 3, interquartile range 3-4) after IC completion (P = .03). However, residents only believed they were “slightly” prepared (median 2, interquartile range 1-2) on entering residency and “moderately” (median 3, interquartile range 2-3) prepared after IC completion (P < .01). Program directors believed an off-site boot camp would be of “moderate” utility (median 3, interquartile range 3-4) with participation limited by funding (57%). Residents without an IC reported that having an IC would be “quite” beneficial (median 4, interquartile range 3-5). Residents preferred instruction before the clinical training (49%) and over 1 week (40%). Both program directors and residents rated lectures on radiation emergencies and simulation highly. Using these data, IROC was developed and piloted with incoming residents at 4 institutions. After IROC, residents reported improvement in overall preparedness for clinical training (before: median 1, interquartile range 1-2; vs after: median 3, interquartile range 2-3; P < .01) and among specific practice domains. Conclusions: Beginning radiation oncology residents frequently lack structured introductory curricula but desire instruction before the clinical training with a focus on practical aspects (emergency management, contouring). Program directors recognize the value of both off-site and on-site boot camps. An on-site IC could mitigate funding barriers. A standardized IC, IROC, piloted at 4 programs, showed promising outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1038
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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