Revised core curriculum for RTTS

Coffey, M. (2010) Revised core curriculum for RTTS. S6. ISSN 0167-8140


Backg round: The first Core Curriculum was published in 1995 focussing on academic content and curriculum philosophy. The 2004 revision added a discussion on the technological and clinical developments within radiotherapy and the evolving role of the RT. A section relating to the delivery of radiationtherapy education reviewed curr iculum content, education facilities, teaching practice and staffing requirements in the clinical and academic setting. This revision of the Core Curriculum will build on the experiences gained in the initial development and first review. The academic and clinical content will be considered in terms of its relevance for future practice across the member states. To ensure the final curriculum reflects relevance to clinical practice this revision will incorporate a review of scope of practice and responsibilities matching the academic and clinical component to the required skills. The European Union aspiration is free movement of personne l. Currently there is a wide range in the level of responsibility taken by RTs across member states, related to the education level but also influenced by the hierarchical structure and historical working practices that exist. Identifying the scope of practice of RTs and the skills levels required tor practice and reflecting these core skills in the curriculum content should move the profession lowards this goal. It should also facilitate educators who are engaged in curriculum development to design appropriate first programmes to ensure students have achieved the necessa ry competence on graduat ion and continuing education courses to reflect career development requireme nts. Our long term aim is to achieve degree status for RT education in all countries with RTs SUitably equipped to act as autonomous professionals within the multidisciplinary team, to examine their own practice and research ways in which it can be improved. As part of this process we will take into account the situation currently existing within member states and define levels that facilitate all to achieve the ultimate goal through a range of different routes. Methodology: Two questionnaires were prepared. The ESTRO quest ionnaire focussed on the RT academic programme, the accred itation system in place and the use of the European Core Curriculum in developing education programmes. The Scope of Practice quest ionnaire covered academic and clinical education but with the main focus on scope of practice and the responsibilities expected of RTs through their careers. The questionnaires were circulated through the National Societies where a contact person had been identified or through personal contact. Reminders were sent at regular Intervais to try to achieve the highest possible response. Results: 34 countries were surveyed and 26 responses have been received. The first analysis has focussed on the Scope of Practice and prelim inary data was presented at the ESTRO National Societies meeting on the zs March 2010. The professional title for RTs still remains a significant problem with at least 30 titles currently in use across Europe. There is evidence that several countries are moving towards the title radiation therapist but RT will remain as the generic title in the second revision. There is wide variation in the level of mentorship provided or required by new graduates and the areas within which they are expected to work. Over 50% of RTs are currently expected to carry out pre-treatment procedures including image fusion, contouring and treatment planning. A higher percentage are involved in checking the online set up verification images and, in many instances, are also responsible for approving images. One third replied that they were involved in documenting side effects using a recognised scoring system and in 2 countries RTs can prescribe medication in accordance with protocol. The majority of RTs are involved in daily QA checks following in house training or in conjunction with physics staff. Half the respondents indicated that RT managers had undertaken further education but only 0% of countries had a defined management structu re or appropriate education programme in place. Discuss ion : In the majority of the education programmes radiotherapy is a very small component and clinical practice can be as short as two weeks. It is becomin g increasingly clear that many courses do not prepare graduates for the level of responsibil ity that they are required to take when they enter into the clin ical department s. This review of the core curriculum is one of a range of projects relating to RT education facilitated by both ESTRO and the IAEA and aiming to raise the professional profile and harmonise education programmes.

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