University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Program Rotations

Program rotations in the Radiation Oncology Residency Program are conducted in the areas of clinical, physics, and research.

Clinical

During the 48 months of the program, at least 36 will be spent in the full-time clinical oncology rotations outlined in the curriculum. The remaining 12 months will be comprised of physics (1 month), optional non-oncology electives (e.g. radiology, pathology; up to 2 months), and a 9 month research rotation.

View Clinical Schedule

Clinical Rotations

Residents are assigned to a faculty member who mentors for that individual disease-oriented rotation. The resident is responsible for seeing new consults with the attending and dictating a history and physical examination for each. The resident is also responsible for seeing on-treatment and follow-up patients with the attending and dictating appropriate notes. Residents will participate in all simulation and treatment planning activities for their patients under the supervision of their attending, follow patients’ tumor response and tolerance to treatment, participate actively in the medical decision making process and participate in long-term follow-up clinics.

Didactic lectures will, in general, take priority over clinical activities for residents. Residents will be excused from their clinical duties during didactic activities that occur during the workday.

Disease-Oriented Clinical Rotations

These include lung, breast, genito-urinary, gastrointestinal, gynecological, central nervous system, head and neck and hematological malignancies.

Pediatric Oncology Rotation

Experience in pediatric radiation oncology is gained through a 3-month rotation at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. This rotation occurs at the beginning of the third year. Residents also are responsible for participating in the weekly pediatric tumor board.

Physics

The physics rotation emphasizes the clinical application of principles learned in the didactic course. It is a four-week rotation that is usually in the second year of training. Residents spend time in dosimetry/treatment planning and become familiar with the simulators and treatment machines. Quality assurance procedures are observed firsthand. During this rotation they are involved in treatment planning and physics quality assurance procedures. In this environment, teaching is done on a one-to-one basis. Ample opportunities for physics research will be provided during the third year research rotation. Residents may opt to participate in a clinical physics research project as well.

The physicist is always present at chart rounds and other QA activities. Physics faculty interacts with residents during patient consultation and treatment planning. During the lecture series, residents are encouraged to ask questions and to participate in discussions. Residents work directly with physicists and dosimetrists during their physics rotation; they will perform actual planning with direct guidance from the physics faculty. A clear “open door” policy will exist in the department, where the residents are encouraged to seek out the physicists whenever a problem or question arises.

View Sample Physics Rotation

Research

The research rotation aims at developing the skills necessary to plan, conduct and critically review research. The faculty will teach the residents research design, statistics and critical review of literature and assists in the selection of research topics for development. Tumor registry, research meetings, the radiobiology and physics research programs, state-of-the-art research facilities and staff all offer research opportunities to the residents. Residents will be required to engage in faculty supervised research projects, either laboratory, physics or clinical. Project results will be suitable for publication and presentation at local, state, or national meetings. The institution supports and funds the research initiative and provides funding for resident travel to meetings.