CLEVELANDDistance education for continuing medical education
(CME), often conducted via e-mail and the Inter-net, is designed for
independent study at the participants convenience. It also
eliminates the need for travel, an important consideration in a
country like Canada with a large geographic area and a small
A survey of Canadian radiation technologists designed to measure
interest in distance learning found that work constraints were a more
frequent obstacle to participation than domestic obligations.
Radiation technologists perceive a low level of support
from their cancer center for their participation in distance
education courses, Gabrielle Kane, MB, MEd, FRCPC, said at the 33rd
annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Education.
Dr. Kane is assistant professor of radiation oncology, Princess
Margaret Hospital, Toronto.
Why They Seek CME
When asked why they sought opportunities for professional
development, the radiation technologists cited a personal desire for
professional development more often than the need to fulfill
In this profession, professional development doesnt bring
pay raises or promotion, Dr. Kane told ONI.
There are 943 radiation technologists working in provincial cancer
centers in Canada, which has no independent radiation facilities. The
24-item survey, designed by Princess Margaret Hospital as it
considered offering CME through distance learning, was mailed to 300
randomly selected radiation technologists.
The response rate to the survey was 67%. Of those responding, 80%
were women, and 90% were younger than 44 years. Half of the
respondents were from Ontario, and 30% were from the Greater Toronto area.
Most of those surveyed welcomed the opportunity for distance
learning: 87% said they were either planning to participate or were
considering participation in distance education for professional
However, the study suggests that a somewhat smaller percentage are
actually likely to participate: Only 70% agreed with the statement,
My domestic circumstances are such that I can take part in
distance education, while 60% agreed with the statement My
work circumstances are such that I can take part in distance education.
It was most interesting to see that work restraints were
perceived as more restrictive than domestic ones, Dr. Kane said.
She noted that continuing medical education is optional and not
required for licensure renewal in some provinces.
At a time when there is a national shortage of radiation
technologists in both Canada and the United States, the study
demonstrates the importance of institutional support for continuing
education, Dr. Kane said.
Princess Margaret Hospital has made a number of changes to encourage
participation in distance education. For example, the hospital offers
financial support to radiation technologists who wish to participate
and has extended its library hours and increased access to computers
and email to increase access to internet CME courses.