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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2015 Dec 1;93(5):965-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2015.08.020. Epub 2015 Oct 8.

Attracting Future Radiation Oncologists: An Analysis of the National Resident Matching Program Data Trends From 2004 to 2015.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida. Electronic address:
Division of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Connecticut.



A significant physician shortage has been projected to occur by 2025, and demand for oncologists is expected to outpace supply to an even greater degree. In response to this, many have called to increase the number of radiation oncology residency positions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) data for the number of residency positions between 2004 and 2015 as well as the number and caliber of applicants for those positions and to compare radiation oncology to all residency specialties.


NRMP data for all specialties participating in the match, including radiation oncology, were assessed over time examining the number of programs participating in the match, the number of positions offered, and the ratio of applicants to positions in the match from 2004 to 2015.


From 2004 to 2015, the number of total programs participating in the match has increased by 26.7%, compared to the increase of 28.6% in the number of radiation oncology programs from during the same time period. The total number of positions offered in the match increased by 53.4%, whereas radiation oncology positions increased by 56.3%, during the same time period. The ratio of applicants (defined as those selecting a specialty as their first or only choice) to positions for all specialties has fluctuated over this time period and has gone from 1.21 to 1.15, whereas radiation oncology experienced a decrease from 1.45 to 1.14.


NRMP data suggest that senior medical student applications to radiation oncology are decreasing compared to those of other specialties. If we hope to continue to attract the best and brightest to enter our field, we must continue to support early exposure to radiation oncology, positive educational experiences, and dedicated mentorship to interested medical students.

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