In the past few years, I’ve developed closer collaborations with the dosimetry community, giving annual talks at the national AAMD meeting and working with Radiation Oncology Resources, Inc. to develop much-needed Quality Systems and training programs for radiation therapy. In the process, I have met more and more dosimetrists and dosimetry students, and am always impressed by their hunger to learn, improve, and share techniques and best practices. Dosimetrists are a highly collaborative population of colleagues as opposed to a competitive population of rivals. This is healthy.
As part of my commitment and appreciation for the dosimetry community, I proudly announce that I will be working with Dr. Scott Collins and his Dosimetry Master program at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale). I will be giving guest lectures, working with ROR to run plan quality projects (i.e. Plan Challenges devoted to the students), and most importantly I will be arming the students with “Quality Reports [EMR]” licenses throughout their education. Read more about it here or here (ROR website, longer press release) or here (Reuters).
We just finished a pilot project with the outgoing class of 2013, and in just a few weeks we were already seeing how the software can help on so many fronts – from interactive education on core principles of radiation therapy, to clinical protocols and continual improvement initiatives. We now look forward to the 2014 class, and beyond.
– Ben Nelms...
Two weeks ago, I posted a survey to help gather some information that will help me plan for Project Icarus. I sent 70 email notifications and 40 people filled out the survey, which is a pretty good response rate (thanks for that). The survey results are summarized here along with the “next steps” for Project Icarus.
95% of all respondents heard about Project Icarus from the AAMD talk, either because they were there (85%) or heard from somebody who was (10%). As far as demographics of workforce, 42.5% of dosimetrists worked with three or more other planners and just 12.5% worked as the sole planner at their site. In terms of number of radiation oncologists, 42.5% work with five or more rad oncs and 40% working with just one or two.
Regarding how or why people want to be involved, a menu of possible responses was provided where people could enter multiple answers as applicable. There were four standout responses: 1) I want to use it to generate objective data regarding dose or DVH objectives that might be impossible to achieve, per patient (90%); 2) I want to be part of something new and useful in my industry (82.5%); 3) I want to connect with a network of like-minded planners with mutual interests (70%); and 4) I want to use it to help communication with my physicians (60%).
Fewer respondents (15%) were interested in publishing results or presenting at a future AAMD meeting. I believe this reflects that clinical workloads do not allow dosimetrists much time for dedicated “research” projects, though I will note that 95% of people graded their boss as either “somewhat supportive” or “very supportive” of clinically relevant research projects. So listen, I think you should remain open-minded about the topic of research, because even though publishing is certainly a lot of work and the review process requires thick skin, it is still a very effective way to contribute to the knowledge base in your industry. Here is how I see it: if you figure out something important, useful, or just cool, then get the word out....