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 population.
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 professional requirements.
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 development.
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.