Accelerated Education Program in Radiation Medicine: International Learner Perceptions of Experiences, Outcomes, and Impact

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2021 Mar 1;109(3):656-660. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2020.09.051.


Purpose: The Accelerated Education Program (AEP) at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM) has been offering continuing medical education courses since 2006. The purpose of this study was to assess learner experiences, perspectives, and outcomes using Kirkpatrick's Four Level Training Evaluation Model (ie, reaction, learning, behavior, results) to ascertain whether it was meeting stated goals.

Methods and materials: Past course participants (2010-2018) were invited to participate in a semistructured interview. Interviews were transcribed verbatim; thematic analysis was conducted by a 4-person research team.

Results: Seventeen participants including 2 medical physicists, 6 radiation oncologists, and 9 radiation therapists from 6 countries on 4 continents participated in the study. Interviews lasted an average of 25 minutes. Consistently positive outcomes were reported at each level of Kirkpatrick's model. At the reaction level, participants liked the small, interactive case-based design, exposure to renowned faculty and practices from PM and other major centers, and the interprofessional practice (IPP) approach. Suggestions for improvements include enhancing practical content. At the learning level, participants reported gaining new knowledge or skills and new awareness or attitudes. Behavior changes described included sharing learnings with colleagues, implementing changes in practice or techniques, departmental structure, and IPP. Participants described the effects on clinical practice (results) in quality of care, access to care, and academic contribution. Identified barriers to change related to the restricted internal capacity for change and the need for wider staff training.

Conclusions: AEP courses were found to have a positive effect on local practices ranging from confirmation of current practice through to increased access to and quality of advanced radiotherapeutic techniques and care. Our findings confirm that AEP is achieving its goal of "putting innovation to work" and suggest curricular improvements that can enhance these effects.