Training the Physician-Scientist in Radiation Oncology

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Radiation Oncology is a unique blend of technology and clinical care that encompasses a wide range of topics requiring for scientific investigation, from cancer biology to artificial intelligence. 

As a field, Radiation Oncology is eager to develop physician-scientists with diverse expertise, including clinical research, biological sciences, medical physics, and computational biology. The desire and need to develop physician-scientists has led to the creation of and participation in physician-scientist training programs (PSTP) within Radiation Oncology clinical residencies. 

Specifically, the American Board of Radiology sponsors the Holman Research Pathway program, which accelerates clinical training and provides a continuous block of time for research for interested and qualified candidates. Since it's smaller specialty, most programs do not have their own PSTPs; however, many individual programs also participate in institutional PSTPs. Both of these programs allow for high-level research to be conducted during residency, which is then often extended into early faculty positions.

What Does Training Look Like?

Candidates interested in pursuing a physician-scientist career in Radiation Oncology usually apply to a program that will support the Holman Pathway or PSTP pathway. Both programs are typically applied to during the beginning of residency, and then different institutions allocate the research time individually. 

Often, the majority of clinical training will be conducted in the first two years with research time starting in the third year and extending into the fourth year. Additional clinical rotations are often added at the end to refresh trainees clinically prior to graduation.

Resources

Board Specific Pathways (Holman Research Pathway)

American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology (ARRO)

Publication: Salama et al. Fostering Radiation Oncology Physician Scientist Trainees Within a Diverse Workforce. (2021) Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 110(2), 288–291. PMID: 33412263

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