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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2020 Mar 15;106(4):683-689. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.11.030.

Nonclinical Time in U.S. Radiation Oncology Residency Programs: Number of Months and Resident Opinion of Value.

Author information

1
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida.
2
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
3
Department of Radiation Oncology, Moffitt Cancer, Tampa, Florida.
4
Radiation and Cellular Oncology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
5
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida. Electronic address: amdurr@shands.ufl.edu.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Data regarding the amount and use of nonclinical time (NCT) in radiation oncology residency programs are scarce. We surveyed every U.S. radiation oncology residency program to obtain benchmark data to inform decisions about optimal program structure.

METHODS AND MATERIALS:

An anonymous, web-based survey was distributed to postgraduate year 5 residents at Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited radiation oncology training programs. The survey included 33 yes/no, Likert-scale, and free-response questions. Program data were analyzed for all programs, including those considered "top 10" per Doximity and those "not top 10." Likert-scale responses were dichotomized as "not as satisfied" (1, 2, 3) or "very satisfied" (4, 5).

RESULTS:

One hundred twenty-six residents (69%) completed the survey. Program-specific data were obtained for 100% of programs (n = 82). Almost all training programs (98%) provide residents with protected NCT. Including programs with no NCT, the median NCT is 10 months in all programs. The median NCT is 12 months in "top 10" programs and 9 months in "not top 10" programs (P < .01). Most programs (68%) reported >6 months of NCT. The proportion of residents wanting more NCT decreased as the amount of NCT increased (73%, 52%, and 19% for 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 months, respectively; P < .01). The proportion of residents who were very satisfied with NCT flexibility increased with more NCT (64%, 79%, and 94% for 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 months, respectively; P < .01), as did the proportion of residents who were very satisfied with accomplishments during NCT (35%, 53%, and 72% for 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 months, respectively; P < .01). When asked whether residents would theoretically give up some NCT to shorten residency, the proportion of residents willing to shorten their residencies decreased as the amount of NCT increased (65%, 47%, and 33% for 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 months respectively; P = .04).

CONCLUSIONS:

Programs should maintain an emphasis on NCT and implement measures to ensure meaningful resident experiences.

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