Research and Quality Assurance
The department expects residents to participate in hypothesis-driven, thematic-based research during training, and all residents are guaranteed six to twelve months of research time during the PGY4 year. The specific length of research time afforded each resident will be based on the nature and quality of the proposed research as determined in advance by the residency program director and chairman. Residents have the discretion of tailoring their research in the form of biological laboratory research, clinical research or medical physics research under the supervision of a designated mentor. Basic research opportunities will not be limited to radiation research but will be open to any cancer-related laboratory programs associated within the KU School of Medicine and KU Cancer Center. During the allocated research time, residents will be free of all clinical responsibilities and will not be expected to take call assignments.
Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
The department also places an emphasis on resident involvement in quality improvement and patient safety. All residents are encouraged to develop initiatives to promote safety in the workplace through designated radiation oncology Clinical Quality Initiative (CQI) projects, formulated in accordance with the program director and the Graduate Medical Education (GME) staff. Abundant opportunities exist for residents to initiate and/or participate in department-wide quality initiatives using such tools as lean, root cause analysis and failure mode and effect analysis.
Notable in-house innovations include the development of a state-of-the-art bio-specimen repository within the department, a real-time bioinformatics registry and a quality/safety program. A new division of the department was recently established consisting of an internal research support team comprised with five full-time personnel including a PhD-level biostatistician, resource/database manager, clinical research coordinator, quality coordinator and grants/regulatory specialist. This team supervises an in-house registry which interfaces between EMR, treatment-planning systems and other patient-reported, outcomes-related databases and has created opportunities for residents to participate with informatics research.
Additionally, an in-house survivorship care clinic spearheaded by our nurse practitioners has created opportunities in quality-of-life-based outcomes research. The integration of a full-time palliative medicine service within the department has furthered opportunities for the development of investigative projects. Lastly, collaborations between the department and KU Cancer Center core facilities in high-throughput drug discovery/re-purposing, genomics and bioinformatics have direct implications for translational radiation oncology research and has opened additional avenues for career development.
The department boasts a large, experienced data management and research support team. Efforts to promote self-reported outcome analysis have been developed by the faculty with the implementation of virtual data tabulation. Full-service statistical support, data managers, research coordinators, and information technology are available in the department to assist residents with all research projects.