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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2005 Jun 1;62(2):519-25.

Radiation oncology career decision variables for graduating trainees seeking positions in 2003-2004.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.



Radiation oncology trainees must consider an array of variables when deciding upon an academic or private practice career path. This prospective evaluation of the 2004 graduating radiation oncology trainees, evaluates such variables and provides additional descriptive data.


A survey that included 15 questions (one subjective, eleven categorical, and 3 continuous variables) was mailed to the 144 graduating radiation oncology trainees in United States programs in January of 2004. Questions were designed to gather information regarding factors that may have influenced career path choices. The responses were anonymous, and no identifying information was sought. Survey data were collated and analyzed for differences in both categorical and continuous variables as they related to choice of academic or private practice career path.


Sixty seven (47%) of the surveys were returned. Forty-five percent of respondents indicated pursuit of an academic career. All respondents participated in research during training with 73% participating in research publication authorship. Post graduate year-3 was the median in which career path was chosen, and 20% thought that a fellowship position was "perhaps" necessary to secure an academic position. Thirty percent of the respondents revealed that the timing of the American Board of Radiology examination influenced their career path decision. Eighteen variables were offered as possibly influencing career path choice within the survey, and the top five identified by those seeking an academic path were: (1) colleagues, (2) clinical research, (3) teaching, (4) geography, (5) and support staff. For those seeking private practice, the top choices were: (1) lifestyle, (2) practice environment, (3) patient care, (4) geography, (5) colleagues. Female gender (p = 0.064), oral meeting presentation (p = 0.053), and international meeting presentation (p = 0.066) were the variables most significantly associated with pursuing an academic career path. The following variables were ranked significantly differently in hierarchy (p < 0.05) by those seeking an academic versus private practice path with respect to having influence on the career decision: lifestyle, income, case-mix, autonomy, ability to sub-specialize, basic research, clinical research, teaching, patient care, board structure, practice environment, and mentoring.


These data offer descriptive information regarding variables that lead to radiation oncology trainee career path decisions. Such information may be of use in modification of training programs to meet future personnel and programmatic needs within the specialty.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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