Qualitative Study of Interprofessional Collaboration in Radiation Oncology Clinics: Is There a Need for Further Education?

Olivia A. Schultz, Robert S. Hight, Stanley Gutiontov, Ravi Chandra, Jeanne Farnan, Daniel W. Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Interprofessional education (IPE) is gaining recognition as a means of improving health care delivery and patient outcomes. A primary goal of IPE is improved interprofessional collaboration (IPC). The multidisciplinary team in the radiation oncology clinic requires effective IPC for optimal delivery of radiation therapy. However, there are limited data on IPE and IPC in radiation oncology. This qualitative study aims to characterize IPC in radiation oncology. Methods and Materials: Semistructured phone interviews were performed from June to August 2019 with radiation oncologists, nurses, dosimetrists, radiation therapists, medical physicists, and medical students across a single academic medical center and affiliated network sites. Interviews were recorded, de-identified, and transcribed verbatim. Resulting transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Seventeen interviews were performed with 4 radiation oncologists, 2 nurses, 2 dosimetrists, 4 radiation therapists, 2 medical physicists, and 3 medical students. Thematic analysis identified 4 themes: (1) management of the radiation oncology clinic, (2) potential impact of interprofessional training in radiation oncology, (3) current climate of interprofessional education in radiation oncology, and (4) creating an interprofessional training program in radiation oncology. Each theme elicited between 2 and 7 subthemes. Conclusions: From the analytical themes that emerged, it is hypothesized that misunderstanding professionals’ roles can lead to communication breakdown, which creates less efficient clinic management and disorganized patient care. Although other medical professionals shadow physicians during their training, physicians are not learning about other professions in the same way. Interviewees from each professional category recommend a formal shadowing program for radiation oncology trainees at the medical student or resident level. Having structured opportunities for IPE is important given competing demands of learners during medical student rotations and residency. This study suggests an unmet need for exposure of radiation oncology medical trainees to IPE with the ultimate goal of improving IPC in the radiation oncology clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-669
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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