A Qualitative Assessment of Radiotherapy Training at a UK Regional Cancer Centre

G. M. Walls*, A. J. Cole, J. J. McAleer, G. G. Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
101 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: Specialty trainees in clinical oncology must be competent in the coordination of both radiotherapy and systemic therapy at the completion of their training. Radiotherapy technology and postgraduate medical education have evolved significantly over the last two decades, but little is known of the educational impact of those changes within the dual training of the clinical oncology programme. A qualitative assessment of the radiotherapy component of training was undertaken at a single regional cancer centre in order to identify potential areas for improvement. Materials and methods: Consultants and trainees (n = 10) at a regional cancer centre underwent semi-structured interviews regarding their lived experience of learning radiotherapy skills and knowledge. As consultants and trainees can be considered equal co-investors in the process of radiotherapy learning, the same question stems were used for both groups. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was undertaken by the investigators to elicit the perception of both groups. Results: Consultant and trainee assessments of current radiotherapy learning standards differ for several aspects of training, as do their expectations of the other in learning processes. A lack of time is a major barrier in modern practice, and both groups can propose novel measures to improve learning locally. Conclusions: Arrangements for learning radiotherapy have not kept pace with the rate of change in the clinical oncology discipline. Trainees and consultants have contrasting views on the state of training, its strengths and weaknesses, and pathways to improvement, which should be reconciled by programme coordinators charged with upgrading the training system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Oncology
Early online date16 Nov 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The lead researcher was supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre to undertake this research as part of a MSc Clinical Education at Queen's University Belfast, through the Dr Gary McGowan Scholarship. His position is currently a funded Wellcome- HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Royal College of Radiologists

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Apprenticeship
  • clinical oncology
  • learning
  • radiation oncology
  • radiotherapy
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'A Qualitative Assessment of Radiotherapy Training at a UK Regional Cancer Centre'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this