SBRT e-Learning Platform: Developing New Learning Tools at Odette Cancer Centre

THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE 2015-2016 ANNUAL REPORT.

On the team, each person had an area of expertise and they each brought their own perspective to the content.

If you have been working as a radiation therapist for around 20 years, chances are that you did not learn about Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in school. You may have picked up bits of information about this new and rapidly changing technology from conferences and time spent in the clinic.

The non-uniform way that radiation therapists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists are learning about SBRT has resulted in a knowledge base that varies for each individual. In addition, the decisions about and access to SBRT dose guidelines are usually regional – what is acceptable in one region may not be the case in a different region.

Interprofessional faculty members at the Odette Cancer Centre wanted to ensure that all their clinicians and learners have the same level of knowledge about SBRT. So they approached their vendor Elekta, to collaborate on a standard learning platform that can be shared with existing clinicians and incoming learners. 

Through a unique interprofessional partnership consisting of radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, medical physicists, e-learning technologists and Elekta, an e-learning series about SBRT was launched. For the first time ever, all clinical staff and trainees at Odette now have the same level of knowledge about SBRT.

UTDRO Assistant Professor Lisa Di Prospero is the professional leader and manager of research and education for radiation therapy at Odette. She said that this e-learning series “ensures that everyone has the same background foundation when they come to the clinic. We also embed it in the orientation for therapists who are coming to the SBRT unit.” By launching the e-learning series instead of traditional lessons, the educators at Odette now have a larger and more engaged audience, and the flexibility to push new guidelines and materials to this audience.

Darby Erler, who is an Instructor at UTDRO and a clinical specialist radiation therapist (CSRT) at Odette, assembled the content for this e-learning series. “Most of the content was created with help from faculty at UTDRO, namely medical physicists and radiation oncologists and clinical experts from Elekta”, she explained. “We also referenced papers on SBRT and international and national guidelines.” One of the benefits of using an e-learning platform is that key references to seminal papers were provided so that the learners do not have to look for the research on their own. While they go through the series, they can access these papers and publications if they wish to obtain more information.

Learners are advised to go through the four modules in order, but they can skip a section or go back to a section depending on their knowledge base. “The first module speaks about what is required to deliver SBRT safely, followed by modules on planning, treatment, and then case examples to illustrate the concepts,” adds Darby.

The e-learning series launched in 2016 after a year and a half in development. Elekta’s Global Education & Training Development Manager, Dennis Miller, explained the challenges in creating this e-learning series. “We had to take a highly technical subject and make it applicable to a wider audience. It had to be fun, accessible and exciting.”

Early evaluations show that clinical staff are using it to update their knowledge on SBRT and referring back to it for specifics. This was evidenced by learner feedback as highlighted by Mikhael Quaasalmy, junior radiation therapist at Odette: “The e-learning modules provided me with an excellent overview of SBRT prior to starting a rotation on the SBRT treatment unit.  The interactive examples really helped clarify the key concepts for me.”  

Having an interprofessional team behind this project has been instrumental.  Dr. Hany Soliman, Assistant Professor at UTDRO and Radiation Oncologist at Odette, added that “this project was designed by and for learners in all three disciplines – radiation oncology, medical physics and radiation therapy. It is suitable for both beginners as well as learners who have a more advanced knowledge of SBRT”.

On the team, each person had an area of expertise and they each brought their own perspective to the content. The physicists were the technical experts, therapists thought about the patient experience, the oncologists understood the clinical outcome; and the e-learning technologists made the whole package interactive and accessible. Lisa added that “this type of collaboration with industry partners and clinical staff is really the first of its kind.” 

Dennis hopes that this type of e-learning can be taken to emerging markets such as India and Africa. Meanwhile at Odette, the education leads are working to include this e-learning series in the curriculum for incoming trainees and clinicians as a formalized core component of the learning pathway.

IMAGE CREDIT: HORST HERGET PHOTOGRAPHY

 

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