An Evaluation of the Medical Dosimetry Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center School of Health Professions.
Dehghanpour, Mahsa 1974-
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An aging population in the U. S. has resulted in an increase in the number of patients treated for cancer and in the incidence of cancer relative to other major diseases (NCI, 2010). Because of the aggressive nature of cancer, many methods of treatment are needed. Radiation therapy is one of the oldest and most common methods for treating cancer patients. Radiation oncology teams, which consist of physicians, medical physicists, and several allied health professionals, such as medical dosimetrists, and radiation therapists, are responsible to design and deliver the proper dose of radiation to the patients. Medical dosimetrists are an integral part of this team, who are responsible for developing radiation treatment plans that deliver the prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing the radiation dose to the surrounding healthy tissues. Inadequate training of health care professionals causes medical errors that can lead to horrifying results, damaging patients’ quality of life, and even death. Educational programs are accountable for the proper training of healthcare professionals. One way to ensure the quality of these programs is through constant evaluation to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Educational programs should make improvement to their quality based on these evaluations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Medical Dosimetry Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center School of Health Professions. This study examined the degree of student satisfaction with the quality of faculty, clinical education, curriculum, and new student orientation as well as the quality of graduates from the employers’ perspective. A review of literature in other health related educational programs was described and summarized to make recommendations for improvement of the program. Data from the end-of-semester faculty and clinical rotation evaluations in 2007-2008, 2008-2009, and 2009-2010 school years were used to assess the degree of student satisfaction with the quality of the faculty and clinical education. Data collected through the end-of-school program evaluations, during these three school years, were used to evaluate the degree of satisfaction with the curriculum and the new student orientation session. Employer satisfaction with the quality of the graduates was determined through the data collected from employer surveys of 2004-2009 graduates. This study shows that students are satisfied with the quality of their faculty in regard to content knowledge, instructional skills, and professionalism. Students are also satisfied with the quality of their clinical education. However, the satisfaction with the availability of resources and effectiveness of instruction is higher than the satisfaction with consistency in instruction and fairness in grading. A review of end-of-year program evaluation data shows that students are satisfied with their overall experience in the medical dosimetry program. The data show that students are more satisfied with the quality of the medical dosimetry curriculum than the helpfulness of the new student orientation session. Furthermore, a review of employer surveys indicates a satisfaction with the quality of program’s graduates in both areas of professionalism and technical skills. The results of this study made the school administrators aware of strengths and weaknesses of the medical dosimetry program. The author made recommendations to the medical dosimetry program officials on how to make improvements in order to increase student satisfaction with different aspects of the program. Furthermore, the author made recommendations to improve the evaluation procedures used at the School of Health Professions. Modifying some of the evaluation instruments will result in a more profound understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the program’s components and ways to improve them.