That's a really tough question.
It's not unheard of but it's also not common. Outside of the people from NY programs that rotate at Memorial, I only know a handful of people who've done this. Memorial has established a program for visiting residents that even includes housing. The verdict I've heard from people who've done it and people on the other side is that it is VERY high risk.
It's kind of like a med school away rotation on steroids. You better be confident and able to adapt quickly and excel in new environments. Any operative deficiencies or hesitance will be noticed and highlighted. Your surg onc knowledge base will be compared to the fellows.
For an "A" level applicant I think my advice is not to do it. Your CV and letters should be more than enough.
For a lower level applicant...still a tough decision. It's also not going to take you from being a mediocre candidate to a great one. Your CV and everything else will be compared with the rest of the pool still. And you better be damn confident you come off better in person than you do on paper.
So, I did this a couple months ago. One of my mentors had recommended it, since there was a particular program I was very interested in, and my residency program was allowing electives. I asked around, and my other attendings seemed to support the idea, which gave me confidence that they didn't think I would just go make a fool of myself. It ended up being fine. I got positive feedback from the program, but I guess I won't know if it really hurt me until the match in June. Regardless of the outcome, it was so educational to see things done a different way than I'm used to, which got me really excited for fellowship. I met some cool, interesting people. I was exposed to new techniques that I may never see again if I don't go back there. I think the away elective option has a lot to do with your personality and whether or not there is a specific program that you really want to thoroughly check out.For those that are applying, did you do an away rotation in Surg Onc if your program doesn't have a Surg Onc fellowship? Is it recommended? Can you get by without doing one? Thanks.