Oncology education for Canadian internal medicine residents: the value of participating in a medical oncology elective rotation

  • N.A. Nixon Tom Baker Cancer Centre
  • H. Lim BC Cancer
  • C. Elser Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • Y.J. Ko Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre
  • R. Lee-Ying Tom Baker Cancer Centre
  • V.C. Tam Tom Baker Cancer Centre
Keywords: Education, postgraduate medical education

Abstract

Background

Despite the high incidence and burden of cancer in Canadians, medical oncology (mo) rotations are not mandatory in most Canadian internal medicine (im) residency training programs.

Methods

All im residents scheduled for a mo rotation at 4 Canadian teaching cancer centres between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2015 were invited to complete an online survey before and after their rotation. The survey was designed to evaluate perceptions of oncology, comfort in managing cancer patients, and basic oncology knowledge.

Results

The survey was completed by 68 im residents pre-rotation and by 48 (71%) post-rotation. Cancer-related learning was acquired mostly from mo physicians in clinic (35%). Self-directed learning, didactic teaching, and resident or fellow teaching accounted for 31%, 26%, and 10% respectively of learning acquisition. Comfort level in dealing with cancer patients and patients at end of life improved to 4.0/5 from 3.2/5 (p < 0.001) and to 4.0/5 from 3.6/5 (p = 0.003) respectively. Mean knowledge assessment score improved to 83% post-rotation from 76% pre-rotation (p = 0.003), with the greatest increase observed in general knowledge of common malignancies. The 3 topics ranked as most important to learn during a mo rotation were oncologic emergencies, common complications of treatment, and approach to diagnosis of cancer.

Conclusions

A rotation in mo improves the perceptions of im residents about oncology and their comfort level in dealing with cancer patients and patients at end of life. Overall cancer knowledge is also improved. Given those benefits, im residency programs should encourage most of their residents to complete a mo rotation.
Published
2018-06-27
How to Cite
Nixon, N., Lim, H., Elser, C., Ko, Y., Lee-Ying, R., & Tam, V. (2018). Oncology education for Canadian internal medicine residents: the value of participating in a medical oncology elective rotation. Current Oncology, 25(3), 213-218. https://doi.org/10.3747/co.25.3934
Section
Oncology Education