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J Med Radiat Sci. 2018 Mar 8. doi: 10.1002/jmrs.272. [Epub ahead of print]

VERT, a virtual clinical environment, enhances understanding of radiation therapy planning concepts.

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Department of Radiation Therapy, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.
Wellington Blood and Cancer Centre, Wellington, New Zealand.



The ability to understand treatment plan dosimetry and apply this understanding clinically is fundamental to the role of the radiation therapist. This study evaluates whether or not the Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training (VERT) contributes to teaching treatment planning concepts to a cohort of first-year radiation therapy students.


We directly compared a custom-developed VERT teaching module with a standard teaching module with respect to the understanding of treatment planning concepts using a cross-over design. Students self-reported their understanding of specific concepts before and after delivery of the VERT and standard teaching modules and evaluated aspects of VERT as a learning experience. In addition, teaching staff participated in a semi-structured interview discussing the modules from an educational perspective.


Both the standard teaching module and VERT teaching module enhanced conceptual understanding and level of confidence in the student cohort after both teaching periods. The proportion of students reporting a perceived increase in knowledge/confidence was similar for the VERT teaching module for all but two scenarios. We propose that an integrated approach, providing a strong theoretical conceptual framework, followed by VERT to situate this framework in the (simulated) clinical environment combines the best of both teaching approaches.


This study has established for the first time a clear role for a tailored VERT teaching module in teaching RT planning concepts because of its ability to visualise conceptual information within a simulated clinical environment.


VERT ; Dosimetry; medical education; radiation therapy; simulation; treatment planning; virtual reality


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