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Oncology education for family medicine residents: a national needs assessment survey

  • Yip, Steven M.1
  • Meyers, Daniel E.1
  • Sisler, Jeff2
  • Wycliffe-Jones, Keith3
  • Kucharski, Edward4
  • Elser, Christine5
  • Temple-Oberle, Claire1
  • Spadafora, Silvana6
  • Ingledew, Paris-Ann7
  • Giuliani, Meredith5
  • Kuruvilla, Sara8
  • Sumar, Nureen1
  • Tam, Vincent C.1
  • 1 University of Calgary, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, 1331 29th St NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 4N2, Canada , Calgary (Canada)
  • 2 University of Manitoba, 675 McDermot Ave, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0V9, Canada , Winnipeg (Canada)
  • 3 University of Calgary, 1403 29 St NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 2T9, Canada , Calgary (Canada)
  • 4 University of Toronto, 500 University Ave, Toronto, ON, M5G 1V7, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 5 University of Toronto, 610 University Ave, Toronto, ON, M5G 2C1, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 6 Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Ramsey Lake Rd, Sudbury, ON, P3E 6H6, Canada , Sudbury (Canada)
  • 7 University of British Columbia, 600 West 10th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4E6, Canada , Vancouver (Canada)
  • 8 University of Western Ontario, 800 Commissioners Road East, London, ON, N6A 5W9, Canada , London (Canada)
Published Article
BMC Medical Education
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Aug 27, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-020-02207-0
Springer Nature


BackgroundThis study aimed to determine the current state of oncology education in Canadian family medicine postgraduate medical education programs (FM PGME) and examine opinions regarding optimal oncology education in these programs.MethodsA survey was designed to evaluate ideal and current oncology teaching, educational topics, objectives, and competencies in FM PGMEs. The survey was sent to Canadian family medicine (FM) residents and program directors (PDs).ResultsIn total, 150 residents and 17 PDs affiliated with 16 of 17 Canadian medical schools completed the survey. The majority indicated their programs do not have a mandatory clinical rotation in oncology (79% residents, 88% PDs). Low rates of residents (7%) and PDs (13%) reported FM residents being adequately prepared for their role in caring for cancer patients (p = 0.03). Residents and PDs believed the most optimal method of teaching oncology is through clinical exposure (65% residents, 80% PDs). Residents and PDs agreed the most important topics to learn (rated ≥4.7 on 5-point Likert scale) were: performing pap smears, cancer screening/prevention, breaking bad news, and approach to patient with increased cancer risk. According to residents, other important topics such as appropriate cancer patient referrals, managing cancer complications and post-treatment surveillance were only taught at frequencies of 52, 40 and 36%, respectively.ConclusionsCurrent FM PGME oncology education is suboptimal, although the degree differs in the opinion of residents and PDs. This study identified topics and methods of education which could be focussed upon to improve FM oncology education.

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