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Malignant programs

Discussion in 'Radiation Oncology' started by Impressions, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. Impressions

    Impressions Membership Revoked
    Removed 2+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2006
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    Ok, the "top ten" list has been done to death. How about a list of the 10 most 'malignant' programs? (a list perhaps equally, if not more informative)

    OK, so despite people throwing around the 'malignant' descriptor in the past without much restraint, it seems like no one wants to consolidate this very important and useful data-set into one thread (or more likely, they don't want even their pseudonymous screen names asssociated with negative comments).

    I think everyone benefits from making a list like this; applicants can steer away from malignant programs if that's their prerogative, and malignant programs will be forced to be better and nicer programs or suffer the consequences (case in point, look at Duke's on-going turnaround). Does anyone else think we can catalyze more changes for the better?

    NB: Confidentiality will be strictly observed.

    Pm #1
    "Wash U

    Duke (At least previously. They are trying to shape up and I can't tell you how it is now).

    USC (Not only a malignant program, but a bad one too.)

    Rush (Particularly the chair)" 3/07

    Old Posts, Chronologically by Program (to track trends)

    Case Western Reserve

    "the attendings are paid like private practitioners with an interest in maximizing volume to fill their pocketbooks. You gotta seriously wonder if they're actually interested in teaching, and from my impression, they aren't. The residents there work like dogs because of that volume.
    Chairman/Program Director - Tim Kinsella - is known as a pretty shady character around RadOnc circles, having been forced out of Wisconsin because of fraud dealing with Medicare or Medicaid (probably to fill his fat checkbook). He also refuses to work with any PGY2 residents or medical students. He's the only known attending in the department doing major research but recently lost his collaborator David Boothman to another program. Word is that former Program Director John Greskovitch suddenly quit his post in the middle of the application process and was in the midst of interviewing for jobs at other programs but is currently still on as one of the four teaching faculty." 5/05

    "Case Western Reserve seems to be another program that has a negrep on these boards. I went with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Also, I have to give props to both the chief resident (who graciously spent a lot of time talking about his research, grant, and the resident-to-faculty transition) and the chair (who contacted a basic researcher whose work I was interested in and was able to schedule an impromptu meeting).

    Anyway, on with my impressions . . .

    Case Western Reserve (UHHS)
    Location: Urban (Cleveland, OH); This place is very close to Cleveland Clinic, almost within walking distance I would say; Sadly, it was snowing quite heavily when I was interviewing so I had scant opportunity to explore the city; the residents tell me that it is very livable for a mid-western metropolis

    Faculty: 13 RadOnc clinical faculty are listed on their website, but this is misleading; Several of them work in one of many satellite campuses around the state and do not see much time at the home base; Dr. Kinsella and Dr. Einstein (among faculty that I met) are both doing a bulk of the research

    Residents: 4 residents total in the program (3 were available that day); honestly, this was among the best experiences I had with residents in any program; they have wide, varying interests and were more than willing to talk about anything – in fact we had a very frank and honest discussion about strategies to match into RadOnc and the strengths/weaknesses of different programs; The chief resident in particular gave me tremendously useful advice

    Department: The academic offices are nice and the clinical facilities are decent (memory fading again)

    My Two Cents: On SDN there seemed to be a lot of people who are eager to put down Case and the chair Dr. Kinsella. Perhaps these individual have the benefit of wisdom that I do not, but I have only positive things to say about this program. It seems that they will support you well, regardless of your future career choice."2/06


    "Program may be a little malignant, and that morning report thing they do is stressful." 5/03

    "Not sure if the overall program fits into the "malignant" category, but U of Chicago's morning conferences are Socratic style pimping sessions." 9/05

    Cleveland Clinic

    "slightly malignant...at the conferences at ccf...at the beginning of each one (treatment planning, lectures, etc), they pick a resident and pimp the hell out of them. its not malignant (if you know your stuff) but its def uncomfortable...enough so that the residents complain about it. also, they work pretty hard, from 7-6pm, and the attendings have pretty high expectations of their residents." 2/05

    "Let me say this: Cleveland Clinic has IMO an undeserved reputation as a "malignant" program based on the pimping that goes on at their conferences. I attended one on interview, and have now been through about a dozen here, and they are tremendous teaching tools. No one is made to feel bad at these sessions, and you will be amazed at the amount you learn in a very short period of time." 9/05

    "morning conferences... nerve-racking, but not malignant" 2/06

    "attendings...cordial, but not friendly." 2/06

    "I just thought it seemed like an unhappy place..." 2/06

    "fairly malignant" 3/06


    "The interview process was so atrociously disorganized that most of there interviewing were questioning whether to even rank the place. There is presently no Chairman (The Radiology Chair is currently serving also as the RadOnc Chair) as the former Chairman was demoted to Program Director because the department was hemorrhaging money. Word is that a Chairman search will begin as soon as a new cancer director has been selected...The residents all didn't seem very happy and one got the impression that it was definitely not in the top half of their rank list. The department is in disarray as several faculty have left, and one was so unhappy during the interview with me, he appeared to be crying. Another applicant from Columbia medical school itself was told just not to go there because the program was a mess. Enough said." 5/05

    Duke (probably shouldn't even be listed here, but judge for yourself)

    "I heard it is kind of malignant with an inpatient service?" 11/02

    "Duke also was sort or unsettling. Although it has a reputation for being malignant, I do think that that is probably not as accurate as it once was. The PD seems like a very nice guy who is working very hard to dispel that image...residents do say that he never fails to fight for residents and take their side." 5/03

    "Used to have a malignant reputation as a residency program, but I did not get that sense when I visited." 3/04

    "Duke did a fabulous job of dispelling old myths during their interview day. I came away feeling like they were a fabulous place to train and no longer malignant. I feel much of their improvement came from Dr. Marks' efforts and he should be recognized for this success. In addition to listening to the interviewees and current residents, he read what was being said about his program and did something about it." 2/06

    "The "malignant" reputation appeared to be largely a thing of the past." 2/06

    "We have all seen the previous posts concerning Duke's malignant reputation. For the most part, I think that is overblown." 2/06

    "Malignant reputation a thing of the past. New chair well received by all." 1/07

    "It has a history of being a malignant program for whatever that is worth. Probably not as much now as it was in the past." 2/07


    "hopkins...was malignant. it got better over time, but bottom line, people were very unhappy. its changed now considerably and residents are happy with new leadership." 2/07


    "I heard the Howard University's residents get turfed out to various Washington D.C. Hospitals where they get wailed on. I guess Howard doesn't really classify as malignant though... it is just a crappy program." 9/05

    "...Howard is now defunct." 3/07


    "Also, don't get scared if your experience at Mallinckrodt is less than a "fun" experience. It does carry the reputation as being a "malignant" program." 10/06

    University of Maryland

    "From talking to the resident who left U of Md, I got the impression that she was a little unhappy with the program and felt it was a little malignant." 10/06

    "I've also heard now from multiple sources that the Maryland program is getting to be malignant." 10/06

    UMD: not malignant, but a couple of sharp personalities. residents don't love it, dont hate it." 3/07

    Thomas Jefferson

    "my residency director had said it has a good reputation so I applied. I was seriously considering the program but my visit was kind of shocking. The residents (4 of the 4 I met) told me not to come to the program and not one of them was happy. The residents claim they work untill 9pm often. This was not the main reason they were upset however. The main reason for their discontent was the lack of teaching. They feel they work really hard seeing the patients but receive no teaching. I have also heard that the attendings do not get along with each other. The attendings all seemed nice during the interview. After asking around it seems that the program has somewhat of a malignant reputation. It is a shame because it is in a nice area." 01/04

    (in response to the above post): "interesting... i got the exact same impression interviewing there. after talking to a co-interviewee on the trail (same impression, residents said not to come), i've decided not to rank them. no point being misearble for 4 years...
    My original plan was to rank all the places I interview -- even the programs where I feel maybe "weaker" than others. but I draw the line at misery -- if I wanted that, I would've applied to other specialties." 01/04

    "You just get a maliganant feeling from the place. The residents didn't seem that sharp or engaging, and conference was just not all that impressive. I think some of the newer attendings like Machtay are awesome but there are a few bad seeds there that just might make the place unbearable for four years. Chairman, Walter Curran - though well known is a really hands-off kind of guy and doesn't take much input from the residents or faculty in making decisions. Basic Science research is virtually nonexistent - and the Radiobiology Division recently lost some of their top faculty to Ohio State. The residents I met just seemed weird - just my personal opinion. Again, heard from at least one of the residents that the program was pretty low on his rank list." 5/05

    "The residents told us that at best, "some of the attendings like teaching" and that "the malignant atmosphere is still very much prevelant." They have a well above average level of scut. They seem to have a trend of private practice, with many residents saying that they were, "scared out of academics." One of the senior residents struggled to find something positive to say about the program, other than the fact that they were going to be a radiation oncologist." 2/06

    "TJ seemed better than Scutwork or SDN reviews from the year prior. Maybe by the time I was invited, they had the residents better coached or whatever, but I didn't get the 'malignant - do not come here' feeling." 2/06

    "really bad program" 3/06

    "most malignant, from the sound of things " 3/06

    "some call it malignant." 1/07

    "Jefferson may also be included, again i did not interview there, but have heard, "the chair treats even the attendings like residents. hope this helps" 3/07

    TJ: malignant. 3/07

    Rush (in Chicago)

    "I have heard the excellent attendings are gone in 2004-5...The dept is left with people from the 1980's with no interest in teaching or research....New Chair seems malignant. New PD is,well...... malignant." 12/05

    "The chairman did not seem overtly malignant to me during the interview. I thought he was pretty nice to be honest. The residents also seemed happy that he was at the helm now...I don't think the program is malignant. Give it some time, and I think it will be a really decent dept." 12/05


    "When I spoke to the resident's, the majority of them were pretty unhappy with where the department is and is going. All n all, it's a malignant program. The resident's deal with a lot of scut and get treated pretty poorly. I think from what I hear that their educational experience is pretty poor as well... some of the attendings are really malignant" 2/07

    "i heard VCU had a very bad reputation this year. I did not personally interview there, but heard from at least 2-3 peopel who did, that the residents there specifically told them: "do not rank this program." Which, in rad onc, to have a resident tell you that, is pretty bad.

    Wash U

    "Wash U: Can you say malignant? One resident even made it a point to tell us not to go there." 9/02

    "As for Wash U's "malignant" reputation---based on my own personal experience, I really didn't sense a threatening atmosphere. But then again, I don't really know what it means to be "malignant." And I have a pretty high threshold for pain" 3/03

    "I think that things have probably improved there over the past 5 years. Altho my opinion is also based on a 24 hour experience." 3/03

    "It has had a reputation for being malignant in the past. I know at least one applicant who did research in the department for a year, and feels that the malignancy reputation is not deserved." 5/03

    "Wash U: did not have the same experience as previous post. Has malignant past reputation, but all of the younger residents have said it has changed." 3/04

    "Historically had malignant reputation, but that is changing." 2/05

    "Wash U is malignant" 11/06

    "I would completely disagree with Wash U being malignant. The residents there all seemed very happy and the attendings were very nice people." 3/07

    "Wash U is a great department but several of the residents and faculty are homegrown talent and operate under the assumption that St Louis is the center of the medical universe. Not a toxic place, and some of the residents were really nice, however it didn't strike me as the friendliest place in the world, either. Several of the staff mentioned that the department was much more malignant in the past during the Perez era." 3/07

    "Wash U: many residents left for "personal reasons" (ie, malignant as hell). I can't say if its changed in the last 2 or 3 years. I know [someone] who is not at all a wilting flower who had a choice of places to go and when he interviewed at Wash U (more than 4 years ago now) said they were miserable bastards.

    I would completely disagree with Wash U being malignant. The residents there all seemed very happy and the attendings were very nice people. 3/07

    NYU: malignant faculty. I can't say for residents, but beware. 3/07

    U Buff: some issues here...the PA program can be as much of a problem as it is useful according to residents ive spoken with, but don't think its quite malignant. this is all second hand so might not be worth posting. 3/07
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  3. stephew

    stephew SDN Super Moderator
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jun 7, 2001
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    There was some concern about the privacy of people making contributions to this thread so it was changed to the generic "impressions" account. anyone who wishes to add to it may do so using that screenname/password.

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