Standardising radiation therapy undergraduate competency levels

Carmichael, Mary-Ann & Bridge, Peter (2012) Standardising radiation therapy undergraduate competency levels. In Annual Scientific Meeting of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy, 20-22 April 2012, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney, NSW. (Unpublished)


QUT Bachelor of Radiation Therapy students progress from first visiting a radiation therapy department to graduation and progression into the NPDP over a span of three years. Although there are clear guidelines as to expected competency level post-NPDP, there is still a variety of perceived levels prior to this. Staff and students feedback both suggest that different centres and within centres different staff have differing opinions of these levels. Indeed, many staff members object to the use of the word “competency” for a pre-NPODP undergraduate, preferring the term “achievement”. While it is acknowledged that students progress at different rates, it is vitally important for equity that staff expectations of students at different academic levels are identical.

Provision of guidelines for different stages of progression are essential for equitable assessment and most assessments, including the NRTAT are complemented by statements to enable level to be determined. For the University-specific competency assessments some level of consensus between clinical staff is required, especially where students are placed at a large number of different placement sites.


The main aim of this initial study is to gauge staff opinions of levels of student progression in order to judge cross-centres consistency. A secondary objective is to evaluate the degree of correlation between staff seniority and perception of student levels. Informal feedback suggests that staff at or just post NPDP level have a different perception of student competency expectations than more senior staff. If these perceptions change with level it will make agreement of guidelines statements more challenging.

Study Methods

A standard evaluation questionnaire was provided to RT staff participating in ongoing updates to clinical assessment. As part of curriculum development staff were asked to provide anonymous and optional answers to further questions in order to audit current practice. This involved assigning level of student progression to different statements relating to tasks or competencies. After data collation, scores were assigned to level and totals used to rank statements according to perceived student level. Descriptive statistical analysis was used to identify which statements were easier to assign to student level and which were more ambiguous. Further sub-analysis was performed for each category of staff seniority to judge differences in perception. Strength of correlation between seniority and expectation was calculated to confirm or contradict the informal feedback.


By collating different staff perceptions of competencies for different student levels commonly agreed statements can be used to define achievement level. This presentation outlines the results of the audit including statements that most staff perceived as relevant to a specific student group and statements that staff found to be harder to attribute. Strength of correlation between staff perception and seniority will be outlined where statistically significant.

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ID Code: 58542
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > ONCOLOGY AND CARCINOGENESIS (111200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > ONCOLOGY AND CARCINOGENESIS (111200) > Radiation Therapy (111208)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 19 Feb 2014 00:01
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2014 00:01

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