Mar 10, 2014
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Medical Student
I'm wondering if people who have interviewed in Rad Onc can share their experience about having a back up specialty. According to the NMRP charting outcomes in 2016, 89 Rad Onc applicants who matched applied to more than one specialty. I assumed that the majority of these people (the 39 people who applied to 2 specialties) are counted as such because they also ranked PGY1 or Transitional years as well. Nevertheless, that data begs two questions to someone uninitiated, like myself:

1) Since all Radiation Oncology residents must complete at least a transitional year or preliminary IM year, how does one account for the 60 people who only ranked 1 specialty - Rad Onc?

2) For the students who ranked 3+ specialties, what are the additional specialties they ranked besides Rad Onc, and more importantly, why? Is this considered an overall wise strategy, or is it an unnecessary measure to take if one has a decent application and applies very broadly to a wide range of Rad Onc programs?

I find this data all very confusing. I was under the impression that the "rank lists" one established were separate for PGY1/Transitional year and Radiation Oncology, so to find that so many students applied to 2+ programs was surprising.
https://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Charting-Outcomes-US-Allopathic-Seniors-2016.pdf
 
Last edited:

Carlin

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2006
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To address your first question-

When you rank an advanced (PGY2+) program, as the majority of radiation oncology residency programs are, you get the option to associate a prelim program rank list with it. So, for instance, you may rank Harvard rad onc #1, and then your number 1 prelim program might be Harvard prelim medicine, number 2 might be Tufts prelim medicine, number 3 might be another Boston area prelim, etc. Now your second rad onc program might be Stanford rad onc, so you have your associated prelim rank list that has Stanford IM #1 and some other Cali IM prelim #2, etc.

If you just did this, you would only be considered as having ranked one program type in the eyes of the NRMP charting outcomes. (i.e. the 60 applicants)

Now, a lot of rad onc applicants (myself included) will list a few prelim programs at the bottom of their main match list, beneath all of their rad onc ranks. This way, if you don't match into a rad onc program, you still might match into a prelim program and will have a job for your intern year. These people will be considered as having two program types, per the NRMP. If you don't include any prelim programs on your main match list, you do not have the potential of matching into just a prelim program in the event you do not match rad onc.
 

fw5tape6kq

5+ Year Member
May 28, 2012
182
40
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Medical Student
To address your first question-

When you rank an advanced (PGY2+) program, as the majority of radiation oncology residency programs are, you get the option to associate a prelim program rank list with it. So, for instance, you may rank Harvard rad onc #1, and then your number 1 prelim program might be Harvard prelim medicine, number 2 might be Tufts prelim medicine, number 3 might be another Boston area prelim, etc. Now your second rad onc program might be Stanford rad onc, so you have your associated prelim rank list that has Stanford IM #1 and some other Cali IM prelim #2, etc.

If you just did this, you would only be considered as having ranked one program type in the eyes of the NRMP charting outcomes. (i.e. the 60 applicants)

Now, a lot of rad onc applicants (myself included) will list a few prelim programs at the bottom of their main match list, beneath all of their rad onc ranks. This way, if you don't match into a rad onc program, you still might match into a prelim program and will have a job for your intern year. These people will be considered as having two program types, per the NRMP. If you don't include any prelim programs on your main match list, you do not have the potential of matching into just a prelim program in the event you do not match rad onc.
I'm curious looking over the OP's post and your response: when you ranked those prelim programs, did you use separate non Rad-onc letters/ a non-Rad Onc personal statement for them?
 

Carlin

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2006
424
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I'm curious looking over the OP's post and your response: when you ranked those prelim programs, did you use separate non Rad-onc letters/ a non-Rad Onc personal statement for them?
No I used the same personal statement. Prelim programs know that you're applying to them to fulfill a requirement, and not because it's your lifelong dream to be a prelim intern. I used mostly the same letters but swapped out a letter from a research advisor for one from an IM attending who I knew from my sub-I.