Why an Increasing Number of Unmatched Residency Positions in Radiation Oncology? A Survey of Fourth-Year Medical Students

Academic Article


  • Purpose: The number of US fourth-year medical students applying to radiation oncology has decreased during the past few years. We conducted a survey of fourth-year medical students to examine factors that may be influencing the decision to pursue radiation oncology. Methods and Materials: An anonymous online survey was sent to medical students at 9 participating US medical schools. Results: A total of 232 medical students completed the survey. Of the 153 students who stated they were never interested in radiation oncology, 77 (50%) reported never having been exposed to the specialty as their reason for not pursuing radiation oncology. The job market was the most commonly cited factor among students who said they were once interested in but ultimately chose not to pursue radiation oncology. Conversely, the recent low pass rates for board examinations and a perception of a lack of diversity within radiation oncology had the least influence. Conclusions: Despite discussion of potential measures to address this disquieting trend, there have been minimal formal attempts to characterize and address potential causes of a decreasing interest in radiation oncology. This study's data are consistent with previous research regarding the trend of decreased medical student interest in radiation oncology and may be used as part of ongoing introspective assessment to inform future change within radiation oncology.
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    Author List

  • Blitzer GC; Parekh AD; Chen S; Taparra K; Kahn JM; Fields EC; Stahl JM; Rosenberg SA; Buatti JM; Laucis AM
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 5