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8 April 2022 Radiation and Cancer Biology Educators of Radiation Oncology Residents and the Courses They Teach
Elaine M. Zeman
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The purpose of this study was to characterize today's radiation and cancer biology educators of radiation oncology residents, and the biology courses they teach. An e-mail list of 133 presumptive resident biology educators was compiled, and they were invited to participate in a 46-item survey. Survey questions were designed to collect information about the educational and academic backgrounds of the educators, how they self-identify, characteristics of the courses they teach, the value that they assign to their teaching activities, their level of satisfaction with their courses and how they see these courses being taught in the future. Findings of this survey were compared and contrasted with prior surveys of biology educators (conducted 12 and 20 years ago, respectively), and with more recent surveys of radiation oncology residents and radiation oncology residency program directors conducted in 2018 and 2019. A total of 67 survey responses were received. Biology educators range in age, academic rank and years of teaching experience from junior (18%) to quite senior (45%). Only about 40% self-identify as radiation biologists, biophysicists or chemists, compared to 56% in 2001. The majority of the others consist of cancer biologists (15%), radiation oncologists (15%) and radiation oncology physician-scientists (16%). Educators prioritize their resident teaching as important or very important. Biology courses are widely variable in contact hours between programs and have not changed significantly over the past 20 years. About 75% of the courses are team-taught, including 15% involving multiple training programs. An average biology course consists of about 42% foundational (“classical”) radiobiology, 28% clinical radiobiology and 28% cancer biology. While biology educators and radiation oncology program directors are highly satisfied with their biology courses, approximately a third of residents report being not very, or not at all, satisfied. That fewer biology educators are radiobiologists by training and their courses have remained quite variable in length and content over long periods point to the need for a consensus core curriculum for resident education in radiation and cancer biology. Both current educators and program directors also support making online teaching resources available, diversifying course instructors and consolidating biology teaching across multiple training programs.

©2022 by Radiation Research Society. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Elaine M. Zeman "Radiation and Cancer Biology Educators of Radiation Oncology Residents and the Courses They Teach," Radiation Research 198(1), 57-67, (8 April 2022).
Received: 8 July 2021; Accepted: 17 March 2022; Published: 8 April 2022
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