Growing Pains: a Simulation-Based Curriculum for Improving the Transition to Hematology/Oncology Fellowship

Kim A. Reiss, Deepa Rangachari, David Cosgrove, Breelyn Wilky, Ross Donehower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Trainee exposure to clinical oncology during residency training is heterogeneous and often modest. The steep learning curve upon entry into fellowship can result in undue stress for fellows and their patients. Simulation-based training has been shown to be superior to classical didactic approaches. We have introduced several innovative simulation-based workshops into the curriculum for the Johns Hopkins Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program in order to address this unmet need. During the first months of training, fellows were engaged in activities emphasizing essential clinical and procedural skills. Specific workshops included the following: (1) chemotherapy writing, (2) cadaveric and simulation-based bone marrow biopsy and intrathecal chemotherapy administration, and (3) simulation-based communication skills training. All first-year fellows in our program participated in these exercises. Pre- and post-workshop surveys were administered to assess knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors; additional distant post-workshop evaluations were disseminated to assess the durability/impact of the curricula and for program evaluation. Overall, participating fellows indicated that the workshops improved patient care and comfort with procedures and patient-centered communication. Continued implementation of these workshops was recommended for program improvement. To the best of our knowledge, ours is amongst the first oncology fellowship training programs to systematically implement simulation-based curricula into our schema for fellowship training. We hypothesize that proactively introducing fellows to these high-yield activities will translate into improved patient care and reduced stress for trainees. Additional investigation into the long-term impact of such curricula remains an area of ongoing need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-502
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Communication
  • Education
  • Fellowship
  • Procedural training
  • Simultation
  • Standardized patient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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