June 10, 2020

ACR Unveils New Radiation Oncology Experiential Learning Program

Quality and safety are increasingly recognized as an essential part of radiology and radiation oncology (RO) practice. Although national meetings are now focusing on quality and safety content, many radiology and RO trainees are still missing out on opportunities for training — or they’re unsatisfied with passive, web-based learning modules.

To overcome such challenges, the ACR recently developed a new RO experiential learning program funded by an ACR Innovation Grant. The training program — “Patient Safety Simulation in Root Cause Analysis” — takes an innovative, simulation-based approach using computer software to guide trainees through a patient safety incident in RO. Experiential learning allows residents to work alongside seasoned faculty and continuously apply new learning to patients in a simulated clinical setting.

Interactive Simulation Drives Learning

The co-leaders of the grant, Matthew Spraker, MD, PhD, and Meghan Macomber, MD, MS, spearheaded an ACR team to develop the experiential learning project. The simulation allows learners to work through educational, multimedia cases in a manner similar to a “choose-your-own adventure” game.

The team created a simulated case of an RO incident where a woman with metastatic, non-small-cell lung cancer, Linda Armstrong, experiences a misaligned treatment for one fraction of her course of palliative radiotherapy for spine metastases. The learner follows along as the clinic director, Dr. Ashley Springsteen, leads radiation therapy team members through managing the safety incident using the department’s quality improvement programs. The case uses a mix of narrative scenes, short didactic sections delivered by a humorous narrator, Spacey the Needle, and interactive elements to keep learners engaged throughout the simulation.

The training covers a range of critical topics, including incident learning, root cause analysis and the importance of a blame-free culture. Its interactive nature also offers an opportunity to evaluate learners on more subjective topics, such as decision making in a leadership role during a medical error.

The RO education program is being tested in a pilot study by Drs. Spraker and Macomber that will be published in a peer-reviewed publication. To learn more, contact Brian Monzon at bmonzon@acr.org.