Radiation Oncology Resident Education: Is Change Needed?

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Leading successful change efforts first requires assessment of the "before change" environment and culture. At our institution, the radiation oncology (RO) residents follow a longitudinal didactic learning program consisting of weekly 1-h lectures, case conferences, and journal clubs. The resident didactic education series format has not changed since its inception over 10 years ago. We evaluated the perceptions of current residents and faculty about the effectiveness of the curriculum in its present form. Two parallel surveys were designed, one each for residents and attendings, to assess current attitudes regarding the effectiveness and need for change in the RO residency curriculum, specifically the traditional didactic lectures, the journal club sessions, and the case conferences. We also investigated perceived levels of engagement among residents and faculty, whether self-assessments would be useful to increase material retention, and how often the content of didactic lectures is updated. Surveys were distributed individually to each resident (N = 10) and attending (N = 24) either in-person or via Zoom. Following completion of the survey, respondents were informally interviewed about their perspectives on the curriculum's strengths and weaknesses. Compared to 46% of attendings, 80% of RO residents believed that the curriculum should be changed. Twenty percent of residents felt that the traditional didactic lectures were effective in preparing them to manage patients in the clinic, compared to 74% of attendings. Similarly, 10% of residents felt that the journal club sessions were effective vs. 42% of attendings. Finally, 40% of residents felt that the case conferences were effective vs. 67% of attendings. Overall, most respondents (56%) favored change in the curriculum. Our results suggest that the perceptions of the residents did not align with those of the attending physicians with respect to the effectiveness of the curriculum and the need for change. The discrepancies between resident and faculty views highlight the importance of a dedicated change management effort to mitigate this gap. Based on this project, we plan to propose recommended changes in structure to the residency program directors. Main changes would be to increase the interactive nature of the course material, incorporate more ways to increase faculty engagement, and consider self-assessment questions to promote retention. Once we get approval from the residency program leadership, we will follow Kotter's "Eight steps to transforming your organization" to ensure the highest potential for faculty to accept the expectations of a new curriculum.




Medical Education | Medicine and Health Sciences





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