Near-peer teaching in radiation oncology: a proof of principle study for learning treatment planning

Gerard M. Walls*, Rachel Ellis, Sophie Lynch, Margaret A. Flynn, Gemma McCann, Lucy J. Jellett, Claire Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

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Radiotherapy techniques are expanding in range and complexity; therefore, protecting learning environments where residents nurture treatment planning skills is critical. The evidence base for ‘near-peer’ teaching (NPT), where professionals at a similar career stage assist in each other’s learning, is growing in hospital-based disciplines, but has not been reported in radiation oncology. The feasibility of a resident-led teaching programme for developing treatment planning skills was investigated herein with quality improvement (QI) methodology. Following consultation with attendings (n = 10) and all residents (n = 17) at the two cancer centres in the region, a regular NPT session focused on planning skills was initiated at the largest centre, with video-linking to the second centre. Tutorials were case-based and pitched at the level of qualifying examinations. Plan–Do–Study–Act (PDSA) cycles were designed based on primary and secondary improvement drivers derived by group consensus among residents, with tutorials adopted accordingly. Participation, content, and satisfaction were monitored for 20 months. Six PDSA cycles reformed the tutorial format, leading to logistical and pedagogical benefits including interprofessional contributions and enhanced interactivity. Tutorials occurred on 85% prescribed occasions (n = 45) during the subsequent 18-month follow-up, with 25 distinct tumour sites featured. Resident participation and satisfaction increased, independent of resident seniority. Tutorials were paused for the first 2 months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic only. A high-quality and cost-effective regional, trainee-led teaching programme on treatment planning was feasible and cost-effective in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245–1250
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
Early online date03 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Interprofessional
  • Quality improvement
  • Treatment planning
  • Near-peer teaching
  • Radiation oncology


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