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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Jul 15;104(4):765-772. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.03.013. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Fellowship Training Programs in Radiation Oncology: A Snapshot From 2005 to 2017.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City, Kansas.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City, Kansas; Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California, Irvine-Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Orange, California. Electronic address:



Despite the proliferation of radiation oncology fellowship training programs over the last decade, limited data exist on their actual details. We present findings from a focused survey aiming to evaluate the experiences of fellowship-trained physicians.


A customized 23-item questionnaire was systematically distributed to 127 board-certified or eligible physicians who had completed a radiation oncology fellowship in the United States between 2005 and 2017 and whose contact information was available. The survey queried motivations for pursuing fellowship and aspects of training pertaining to expertise, mentorship, salary, employment outcome, satisfaction, and regret.


A total of 92 subjects responded. Five were still in fellowship and 3 failed to complete the survey in its entirety, leaving 84 (56 male; 28 female) eligible for analysis. Graduates of US residencies comprised 62% of respondents. The desire to build a career in a particular treatment modality was most commonly cited as the primary motivation for pursuing fellowship (58%), followed by the desire to secure an academic faculty position (16%) and the desire to secure a job in a specific geographic location (14%). Subspecialty fellowships were most often done in proton therapy (27%) and brachytherapy (24%). Among the 26 people who completed proton fellowships, only 10 were currently practicing using protons (38%). The majority of fellows (52%) were compensated between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Seventy-eight (93%) and 72 (86%) physicians were satisfied with fellowship training and their job after fellowship, respectively. Six of the 52 US graduates (12%) and 0 of the 32 international graduates (0%) reported that they would not recommend fellowship to others.


The motivations for pursuing radiation oncology fellowships appear to be complex, and variability exists with respect to multiple aspects of training, including those related to satisfaction and employment outcomes.

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