Medical Students

Overview

The goal of this 4-week clinical rotation is for medical students to learn the fundamentals of radiation oncology.  Students can use this rotation as an opportunity to explore the specialty as a possible career choice.  Students interested in gaining a deeper understanding of oncology care but not planning to pursue radiation oncology will find this course useful to understand radiation oncology as a specialty and therefore better be able to coordinate and deliver optimal multi-disciplinary care and counsel future patients.

Clinical Experience

During the rotation, students work with attending physicians who specialize in treatment of a variety of disease sites and their resident physicians for one week at a time. Students actively participate in the work-up, evaluation, and development of radiation treatment recommendations for patients seen in consultation for both curative and palliative intent.  Students will learn basics of obtaining informed consent for radiation and participate in end-of-life or goals of care discussions.  Students attend weekly departmental chart rounds, morning reports, procedures (brachytherapy or radiosurgery), and multi-disciplinary tumor boards.  Students are also encouraged to participate in patient simulations, treatment planning and dosimetry, and radiation treatments.

Didactics

Students participate in a formal didactic curriculum developed at the University of Chicago and currently implemented and under evaluation at 15 academic institutions across the United States through the Radiation Oncology Education Collaborative Study Group (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24331650).  The curriculum includes lectures on fundamentals of radiation oncology, radiation biology and physics, radiation emergencies, and patient set-up and immobilization.  Additionally, as part of the curriculum students complete hands-on treatment planning and contouring workshops with a faculty or senior resident preceptor.  The curriculum is designed to complement the student's clinical experience and provide an opportunity to discuss new concepts or raise questions as they progress through the clerkship.  Students also attend resident and department conferences as available during the clerkship.

Clerkship Objectives

By the end of this course students will understand:

  • The basic flow and structure of a radiation oncology clinic
  • The basic history of radiation oncology as a medical specialty
  • How radiation oncology optimally integrates into multi-disciplinary cancer care
  • How to clinically evaluate patients with cancer
  • How to develop a clinical oncology treatment recommendation
  • The importance of using evidence to determine treatment recommendations
  • Early and late sequelae of radiation therapy
  • Basics of radiation oncology clinical emergencies
  • Basic radiation biology and physics
  • Fundamentals of patient immobilization and simulation
  • Basics of developing and evaluating a radiation treatment plan

Student Research Opportunities

Students are encouraged to participate in a clinical, basic science, or physics research project. Projects are chosen with and supervised by the course instructor or other department faculty. Topics may include disease outcomes, radiation sequelae, cancer biology, radiation biology, or radiation physics.

First-year Pritzker medical students frequently participate in clinical research projects through the Pritzker Summer Research Program. Interested Pritzker students are encouraged to contact potential faculty mentors.

Medical students from the University of Chicago or other institutions interested in applying for the ASTRO Minority Summer Fellowship Award are encouraged to contact Dr. Anne McCall, departmental Diversity and Inclusion representative, to discuss potential research mentors and projects.

Enrolling in the Clerkship

University of Chicago medical students and visiting medical students are eligible to enroll in the clerkship.  Visiting students should apply through the AAMC Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS).  Please contact Dr. Dan Golden, clerkship director, or Ms. Denise Hallman, clerkship coordinator, with any questions.