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Rad Onc Advice

Discussion in 'Radiation Oncology' started by ncmd2005, 04.18.04.


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    I would appreciate any advice regarding my competitiveness for a residency spot in radiation oncology. I'm at a top 20 med school and have done well in med school --
    Honors in all 3rd year clerkships
    234/95-step I
    261/99-step II
    I took this year off to do a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship -- didn't do rad onc research but radiology (brain tumor) research.

    I'm trying to decide between med/hem-onc and rad-onc-- I really enjoy the mathematical/physics component of radonc. Is there a good mix of medicine and surg in rad-onc?

    I would appreciate your advice.
    Thanks

    -rad onc hopeful
  2. Thaiger75

    Thaiger75 Senior Member

    Joined:
    11.03.03
    Messages:
    346
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    You will be very competitive for rad onc. On paper, you have pretty much what most program directors are looking for.

    If you spend a little bit of time surfing the different threads on this board, you will pick up some of the many things that have been said about the specialty and how it compares to other ones. In my opinion, rad onc is more diverse than either med onc or surg onc. It's similar to surg onc in that the goal is local treatment (we use radiation beams instead of a blade) and similar to med onc in that we have to incorporate chemo and know cancer biology. The technical/math/physics aspects of rad onc is what makes it unique compared to the other onc specialties and if this is what you like about it, I would recommend you go into it. Plus the lifestyles are vastly different, meaning you'll actually have one in rad onc.

    Med onc lifestyle is very much like internal medicine. However, if you enjoy the particulars of IM and the diagnostic aspect of it, then you might still want to consider med onc. If you're still not sure and haven't already done so, I would do a rotation in each to get more exposure
  3. Thanks for your reply Thaiger75.
    I wanted to ask what you suggest I can do now to help improve my application and chances of matching.

    How many programs are reasonable to apply to?
    Do all programs participate in the match? If not, where can I find a comprehensive list?
    What is your take on doing an away elective?

    I appreciate your advice.

    Thanks.
  4. Thaiger75

    Thaiger75 Senior Member

    Joined:
    11.03.03
    Messages:
    346
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    I'm not sure what year you're in, but if you haven't done your clinical rotations yet, obviously concentrate on doing well. If you're gonna honor in anything, aim for medicine and surgery. Other than that, I would get in touch with the rad onc chairman/program director at you school, if you have one, and express your interest. Getting to know someone of that influence early would be very helpful. Again, depending on what year you're in, if you're truly interested in it, I would look into doing rad onc related research, although the research you're doing now is just fine as well.

    As has been expressed often before on this board, there is no "magic number" of programs to apply to. I know some people who only applied to 10-15 (factors such as spouses and location were in play), others I know applied to ALL of them. Part of it depends on your competitiveness as an applicant. Once you get to know the chairman/PD of your school, asking his/her advice, based on your application, on a reasonable number would be helpful (although you should take this with a grain of salt and make your own decision. In my opinion, if you think you are a strong candidate (and so far you do look like one, but I don't know your grades or you personally), then at least 20 would be safe. If you wanna be more safe, apply to 40 or 50. Even more cautious, apply to all of them if you have the money (you can also choose to decline interviews if you're flooded by them if you're so lucky). If you're curious, I applied to close to 50, got 14 interviews, and matched.

    Not all programs participate in the match. In fact, not all programs are in ERAS either, although the trend is shifting. Also, if you have to be careful, as there as some program who start off in the match, then go behind the doors and offering spots outside the match (technically and morally wrong).
    The AMA Freida website posts which programs SHOULD be participating in the match: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2997.html
    The best way to be sure, though, would be to contact the programs directly and ask.

    Away electives: if you're pretty sure you're not gonna make a bumbling fool of yourself, which most pple are capable of doing, then go for them. They can only help and at the very least, should garner you a courtesy interview. I would recommend doing it/them around Sept-early Nov, so that you're fresh on their minds. Feel free to PM if you have any other specific questions.
  5. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    06.07.01
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    Location:
    Boston
    SDN 10+ Year Member
    actually I have to say that Medoncs dont do the "diagnostics of IM" really. Not quite in that way med students think of. They come with much of the puzzle in place. The one difference is the hematology side where often they have to figure out what on the good green earth is going on. More on this thraed later.

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