Special Issue

Clinical research mentorship programme (CRMP) for radiation oncology residents in Africa—building capacity through mentoring

23 Mar 2021
Rebecca KS Wong, Verna Vanderpuye, Joel Yarne, Ntokozo Ndlovu, Nwamaka Lasebikan, Ewa Szumacher, Zahra Kassam

Research skills are mandatory for all oncology residency training programmes. Creating the environment to foster skills and passion can be a challenge in all settings, and a unique challenge in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Tremendous clinical workload places exceptional demand on clinician teachers, research infrastructure and access to research collaborators with diverse methodological skill sets can be limited. International collaborations, and in particular relationship partnerships (Whitehead et al ((2018) Acad Med 93 1760–1763)) can be a useful approach to bridge resource gaps and enrich the support available to trainees (Research EoH ((2014) TDR/ESSENCE/2.14)). The Clinical Research Mentorship Programme (CRMP) is a collaborative initiative created by the University of Toronto Department of Radiation Oncology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, delivered in collaboration with LMIC radiation oncology residency programmes with the primary goal of enriching the research experience of LMIC oncology trainees. It was inspired by observing a need, an enthusiasm to collaborate and some seed funding that supported the idea. At the heart of the programme is a formalised relationship, a triad, between a LMIC oncology trainee, their local supervisor and a mentor from Toronto. Within the collaborative environment created between the LMIC and high income country (HIC) institutions, enabled by remote learning technologies, a 12-week research methods seminar kick starts a year-long mentorship for the trainee on their research question. The goal is to enrich the quality of the research experience for the trainee, resulting in dissemination of research findings in international conferences and publications. A standard evaluation package is used (Vuple et al ((2021) 6 919–928)). In this paper, through a description of our collaboration, we will highlight how a distant mentorship programme was used to enhance clinical research mentorship skills for radiation oncology trainees in Africa. We hope the format we have chosen will continue to demonstrate effectiveness for our trainees, sustainability for our faculty and institutions and will serve as one mechanism to build radiation capacity for LMIC through collaboration, mentorship and research.

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