Development of a gynecologic brachytherapy curriculum and simulation modules to improve radiation oncology trainees’ skills and confidence

Eric D. Donnelly*, Sean Sachdev, Hualin Zhang, Zhuang Kang, Kanesha Broadwater, Jonathan B. Strauss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Brachytherapy in the management of cervical cancer is directly linked to improved survival. Unfortunately, we continue to see a decline in its utilization. A recent survey of U.S. residents demonstrated limited caseload as the greatest barrier to achieving independence in brachytherapy practice. To improve residents’ brachytherapy skills and confidence in performing brachytherapy independently, a gynecologic brachytherapy simulation course was developed and tested. Methods and Materials: The gynecologic brachytherapy curriculum and simulation modules were developed using a combination of didactic education, self-study, practicums, and patient-centered cases. The simulation modules consisted of 2-h sessions. The first hour occurred within a simulated OR environment, where residents independently performed all aspects of applicator insertion in a cadaver model. The second hour consisted of contouring, dosimetric planning, and treatment evaluation. A brachytherapy training survey developed by the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology was given before and after the course. Results: The perceived ability to perform brachytherapy independently for a given disease site correlated directly with number of cases performed. Most residents believed that after performing five cases they would be capable of performing additional cases independently (10 of 18). All strongly agreed (8 of 18) or agreed (10 of 18) this to be true after 15 cases. Compared with survey data before the brachytherapy simulation course, trainees felt that their ability to independently perform brachytherapy (p < 0.001) improved. Conclusions: A brachytherapy simulation course can be used to gain further experience in a controlled environment. Our results demonstrate that gynecologic brachytherapy simulation increased trainees’ confidence in performing the procedures independently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-737
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Gynecologic brachytherapy
  • Residency education
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology


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