SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

help!

Discussion in 'Radiation Oncology' started by QuantumMechanic, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats 5+ Year Member

    2,455
    2
    Nov 23, 2005
    Hilbert Space
    Starting med school in August, very interested in RadOnc, 2 choices right now:

    1. Vanderbilt (finaid situation currently unknown)

    2. UT-Memphis (full tuition scholarship)

    Easy decision if I wanted to do primary care, but I really want to do RadOnc as of now (I know I know, specialty preference likely changes, but can we just assume for now that this is fast-forwarded to residency application time and that I'd be applying for radonc).

    From what gfunk6 said in his "RadOnc Application Guide":

    :( , UT isn't highly regarded as a RadOnc powerhouse and they don't even have a residency program. In fact, most of their radonc faculty work over at St. Jude doing peds, so my exposure would be to rad onc would be limited to shadowing opportunities with community rad oncs and maybe some research at St. Jude (but again, thats limited to peds and might not be the best for residency, esp since peds is such a minor part of rad onc practice). There would only be one summer at UT (right after M1) to do summer research, thus limiting the amount of time I can do rad onc research at another institution. UT has no RadOnc clerkship, so all my rotations would have to be away with no chance to even get any official experience before going on the away rotation.

    more problematic about UT is the fact that there wasn't a single RadOnc match this year there.

    I just don't want to end up trying to get bottom of the barrell residencies that might not be in cities where I would like to live. It seems that reputation does matter, and that UT's lack of a radonc program could really hurt me. I'm not saying that I wouldn't match if I tried, but would I match where I would want to match?

    ...but UT is free, and Vanderbilt is not.
     
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated Physician PhD Faculty Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    3,423
    321
    Apr 15, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Wow, tough situation. Sadly, there is no universal "correct" answer to your question. On the one hand, the majority of medical students who begin their training wanting to go into field "x" invariably change their mind. On the other hand, you will be at a disadvantage if you do not have a home residency program.

    An additional caveat would be this: Vanderbilt's RadOnc program wants to produce physician-scientists. Therefore, they have been recently taking either MD-PhDs or MDs with a strong basic science research background. I have no idea if you fall into either of these categories, but it is something to consider.

    A free medical education is extremely hard to pass up, so I would weigh your choices carefully. Were I in your shoes I would lean towards UT (unless I was also very interested in basic research). Good luck with your decision.
     
  4. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats 5+ Year Member

    2,455
    2
    Nov 23, 2005
    Hilbert Space
    unless I got married I probably wouldn't want to stay in Nashville for another 5 years or whatever radonc's residency length is after. at least Vanderbilt has a program I could match into if I changed my mind. UT automatically puts me in a situation where I would have no home program to match into and very few connections to make. How am I supposed to get good letters when I wouldnt be able to even do a RadOnc rotation until the May right before my 4th year, when I'd have to do an away rotation (where hopefully community shadowing would have at least confirmed my specialty choice)?

    not to mention that any radonc research would probably be limited to one summer...it seems that that would not be enough when I'm reading this forum and seeing what successful applicants have done.

    if I goto UT I'd be dedicated to matching into radonc (so long as I still want to do that...), but I just don't want a strike going against me automatically because of the school I attended.
     
  5. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated Physician PhD Faculty Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    3,423
    321
    Apr 15, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    It seems that you've basically made up your mind. Vanderbilt is an excellent school, you can't go wrong. And if, by chance, you change your mind about RadOnc your med school will not hold you back from applying to any competitive residency.
     
  6. napoleondynamite

    napoleondynamite Keepin' it real yo 10+ Year Member

    841
    54
    Nov 28, 2005
    I think it would be nuts to pass up the free tuition. That's the only decision to me. You could look at the least prestigious schools in the country, and I'm sure all of them have cranked out students in every competetive discipline. True, a big name makes it EASIER to get into a field like radonc..but you could go anywhere, work hard, and it is still POSSIBLE to get in. I don't think name is worth $100k or more. You know what they call the guy who went to the suckiest med school in the country? That's right, doctor. Good luck..to me, it's no decision.
     
  7. CNphair

    CNphair Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    233
    0
    Jun 18, 2005
    Being that I passed on Vandy and matched into Rad Onc from UT, maybe I can shed a little light on the situation.

    You can match into Rad Onc from UT. In the past 3 years, 4 have tried and 4 have been successful...at Wash U, Loyola, Mayo-Jacksonville, and Cleveland Clinic. St. Jude will be your key to research if you aren't coming from a Ph-D like background. The chair, Larry Kun, is very well known in the field. You can get a great letter and he will definitely find a project for you. He has also helped students (like me) get NIH grants as med students. That said, you will still need to work very hard to be at the top of your class as UT doesn't have a lot of "pedigree" to help you out on the interview trail. You will also need to do away rotations to get exposure to adult rad onc. It will be very hard to match "top tier" rad onc unless you have a particularly strong research/Ivy league background.

    As for Vanderbilt, just look at their match list this year. You will definitely get the necessary reasearch and it is an excellent education. It all comes down to money. I chose the (near) free tuition. I think I got an equal education, but having a home residency program would have made things a lot easier. Going "top tier" from Vandy would also be more likely.

    It really came down to money for me...I don't like debt and I have no patience for academic egos. Thus, I felt comfortable with my decision. If you have any more questions, feel free to PM me.

    Oh, and UT allows you to start 4th year electives in January of your 3rd year...it is a very nice arrangement. I did all my aways way before the application was due.

    P.S. Nashville is a much nicer city than Memphis
     
  8. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats 5+ Year Member

    2,455
    2
    Nov 23, 2005
    Hilbert Space
    I haven't made up my mind, but your statement in the RadOnc Application Guide really scares me:eek:. I went to a ****ty public high school which hurt me when I was applying to college despite my great standardized tests scores. I haven't been as successful in the med school admissions game either, and I attribute that partially due to the fact that I don't goto a top name university.

    In short, I just don't want to get screwed (and maybe screwed here means having to work alot harder to get where I want to go than someone else who can ride a name). I work hard and I perform well, but I (for reasons said above) am pretty jaded and don't want to end up regretting my decision (money is replacable with future income, the inability to land a residency, especially one in a place where you want to live, can't be fixed so easily)
     
  9. RadOncRudy

    RadOncRudy 7+ Year Member

    66
    0
    Feb 21, 2007
    I don't know if this will help much, but I've taken the current academic year to do research at St. Jude and I've had a great experience. The rad onc dept was unfortunately unable to take me on full time for the year (there was supposed to be some faculty changes, but I'm not sure what happened with that), but they've been awesome in terms of letting me come to clinic and teaching. The attendings are great and I've gotten to meet residents from all over the country (there tends to be 1-2 residents rotating in the dept for about 1month at a time) and find out what they think are strengths/weaknesses of programs, when and where to do aways, etc. which really helped me get some perspective on this whole process (in addition to this site of course).

    It sounds like a great opportunity to get a free ride and you'd have a great research center to work at. Also, if you're interested in basic science and not all clinical research, there are many people besides the rad onc people to work with (although obviously get to know them). I work with a non-rad onc clinician and have been able to do projects involving angiogenesis inhibitors and radiation (both in vitro & in vivo) which I have found to be really interesting. I'm lucky in that my PI allows me to pursue projects I'm interested in and that he's interested in while still putting RT in the mix.

    What I'm trying to say is that if you make contacts with the right people, you can easily do clinical and basic science research at St. Jude depending on your interests. If you're motivated you'll easily get papers by the time you apply 4th year. I honestly think St. Jude is a great place to do research and if you started a project between 1st and 2nd year you could always keep going with it during 2nd year...I've met UT students who like CNPhair had NIH grants, but you could also apply to the POE program St. Jude offers.

    I agree with CNPhair though...Nashville would be a nicer place to live:)

    Good luck, it sounds like you have a pretty tough decision to make. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions!
     
  10. IRISH22

    IRISH22 the dude 2+ Year Member

    83
    0
    Mar 18, 2007
    all I can say is that things change. Dont pick a achool now based on what you want to do before you've even seen the breadth and diversity medicine has to offer. Many of us here have changed our minds at least 3 times before deciding on radonc. It may happen to you; it may not.

    That being said, if you go into radonc (or truly any field for that matter) money shouldnt be the driving or limiting factor. Like most of us, you can rack up tons of $$ in student loans at Vandy and forget about them until you've got a job (or at least a residency). If you like Vandy, dont let money stand in the way of yoru dream.

    But if I could give you one piece of advice it's to pick the school where you feel more at home. Where the students you met on your interview seemed truly happy, and not just pretending to be happy b/c they are attending a "top tier" med school. You are going to spend 4 years there; your personal happiness and well-being means more than you might think. sorry to sound cheezy....good luck
     
  11. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats 5+ Year Member

    2,455
    2
    Nov 23, 2005
    Hilbert Space
    how much of a disadvantage is it? One that can be overcome by letters from faculty elsewhere?

    other than not having a home program to match into, what disadvantages does not having a home residency program present to radonc applicants?
     
  12. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated Physician PhD Faculty Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    3,423
    321
    Apr 15, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    It is only a relative disadvantage, but it can be overcome. There are many people who match each year from schools w/o home radonc programs.

    As CNPhair stated, letters from top institutions can be of great help regardless of where you are from. Other advantages of a home program are (1) being able to ingratiate yourself w/ said program from day #1, and thereby having access to research projects, (2) having a mentor to guide you from the beginning, (3) having someone who will be able to "make calls" on your behalf.

    Like I said, relative advantages.
     
  13. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats 5+ Year Member

    2,455
    2
    Nov 23, 2005
    Hilbert Space
    gfunk6, thanks for being so helpful!

    Should I attend UT, it sounds like utilizing the resources over at St. Jude would be essential to help me establish contacts and to perform radonc research.
     
  14. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated Physician PhD Faculty Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    3,423
    321
    Apr 15, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Personally, how can you really argue with CNPhair's logic? She went to UT on the cheap, took advantage of the opportunities at St. Jude's and matched in a super-competitive field. Plus, she interviewed at many of the top programs in the nation.

    Really you can't go wrong with either but if you want to avoid large loans then UT seems like the place to go.
     

Share This Page