Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Radiation oncology clinical residency program

The objective of the Clinical Residency Program for Radiation Oncology is to educate and train physicians to be skillful in the practice of radiation oncology and to be caring and compassionate in the treatment of patients. This is ideally accomplished by providing adequate resources, facilities, faculty and a supportive educational environment in which to learn.

Accreditation

The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Residency in Radiation Oncology is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. In 2003, the program was reviewed and approved for five years and granted an increase in its total resident complement from six to eight positions.

Educational guidelines

All residents commencing the radiation oncology program must have completed a clinical PGY-1 year in an accredited graduate medical education institution. Surgical, medical or flexible internship is suggested. Training beyond the PGY-1 year is helpful but not required.

Resident selection process

It is the goal of the Department of Radiation Oncology to produce quality radiation oncologists who pursue either an academic or private practice career. To do this, we participate in the NRMP system and interview approximately 20-30 applicants annually for one or two positions. Applicants are granted interviews and ranked according to past performance on clinical rotations, academic performance, written exam scores, publications and letters of recommendation. Personal statements should include reasons why the applicant wishes to enter the field of radiation oncology and is best used to explain any discrepancies on their ERAS application.

Our department uses the ERAS program.

The deadline for applications is November 1, with interviews in December and January.

The final selection of residents is performed by the NRMP match, and the department is informed in March of the same application year.

The resident or residents chosen by the match are required to sign a contract for the PGY-2 year of their residency, which is renewable yearly thereafter.

Rotations

Residents rotate with one or two attending physicians at a time at least twice during their four years of training. Residents currently participate in a six-month lab rotation, a one-month nuclear medicine rotation and a one-month-away elective at St. Jude’s in pediatric radiation oncology. Residents also spend six to nine months of their training at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, which conducts approximately 100 prostate seed implants annually and is a tertiary care center for Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the region.

Technology

The Department of Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey Cance Center has significant physics staff support and a very active research program with more than 13 Ph.D. physics faculty and a more than $10 million NIH Program Project Grant in the area of image-guided and adaptive radiotherapy. Thus, residents within our training program become familiar with some of the most advanced technologies in the field of radiation oncology currently available. Residents complete their training with significant experience in the following treatment modalities and technologies: 3D conformal radiotherapy with the Pinnacle planning system, IMRT, IGRT, intra-cranial LINAC-based stereotactic radiotherapy, body stereotactic radiotherapy, respiratory gating, accelerated partial breast radiotherapy including external beam, balloon brachytherapy and multi-catheter breast brachytherapy, LDR and HDR prostate brachytherapy, LDR and HDR GYN brachytherapy, breast Accuboost and hyperthermia.

Multidisciplinary conferences

Multidisciplinary conferences are conducted for all the primary disease sites with active participation from pathologists, radiologists, surgical subspecialties and medical oncologists. Each week, more than 14 hours of multidisciplinary conferences occur at VCU Massey Cancer Center and at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA hospital. Since there is simply not enough time to attend all of these conferences, residents attend the conferences that pertain to the specific services through which they are rotating.

Case conferences and teaching

Morning conference occurs Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8:00 to 9:00. All cases from all the clinics are presented and reviewed. On Fridays, residents prepare a 10-minute case presentation which facilitates didactic and Socratic teaching in the manner of a mock oral board exam practicum. From 1998 to 2008, our residency program’s graduates have achieved a first-time Oral Board Certification Exam pass rate of 91.7 percent. Our first-time pass rate has been 100 percent for both written and oral board examinations going back more than the past five years.

Didactic lectures given by attending physicians are centered around monthly site-based teaching conferences with weekly lectures given. Residents present weekly on key papers chosen by resident and lead attending pertaining to the topic of the month.

Inquiries

Clinical Residency Program for Radiation Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center