Most oncologists, except for surgeons, train as internists and complete a residency in internal medicine first. Surgical oncologists train to become general surgeons through a five-year surgical residency, and then pursue an oncology fellowship. Pediatric oncologists will complete a pediatric residency before pursuing a pediatric-oncology fellowship. A radiation oncologist is a medical doctor with training in the use of radiation therapy to cure or reduce the symptoms of cancer, and in the overall care of cancer patients. Medical school graduates can match into PGY-1 or PGY-2 residency positions in radiation oncology. Overall, there are 92 programs offering 207 positions, mostly in PGY-2.
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Fourth-year electives at Duke include a Sub-Internship in Hematology-Oncology. The intensive experience involves care of inpatients with serious hematologic and oncologic disorders. Students learn to interpret peripheral blood films, how to use and interpret other specialized laboratory tests (e.g., bone marrow aspirate/biopsy, serum electrophoresis, coagulation studies, tumor markers, leukemia cell markers), and how to approach the evaluation and treatment of hematologic and solid tissue malignancies and their complications. The MD program attracts over 8,000 applications. Students accepted in 2019 had an average MCAT score of 520 (the full range was 513-525) and an average GPA of 3.8 (full range: 3.6-4.0).
Oncology electives available to Harvard Medical School students include Hematology/ Oncology, Clinical Experience in Radiation Oncology, and Surgical Oncology. Within Harvard’s class of 165, you’ll find that almost a quarter of students come from communities underrepresented in medicine and women make up 58% of the entering class of 2018. As you’d expect, the MD program is selective, with a median matriculant GPA of 3.9 and average MCAT score of 519. In 2019, 6 HMS seniors matched into radiation oncology, including subspecialties of internal medicine.
There are multiple clerkships available in oncology at Hopkins, including Gynecology Oncology, an advanced clerkship in Pediatric Oncology, a clinical clerkship in Medical Oncology, and many more. Five Hopkins students matched in radiation oncology residencies in 2018. The prestigious MD program’s competitive students came in with high scores—in 2019, the school only offered admission to 256 of 4,654 applicants, of which 120 matriculated.
The Chicago-based medical school admits a class of 161, with a median GPA of 3.91 and a median MCAT score of 520. Among many interest groups available to Feinberg students, the Oncology Interest Group provides knowledge and promotes an interest in the specialty of oncology. The group organizes opportunities for interaction with both patients and professionals to highlight the rewarding opportunities and unique challenges that working with cancer provides.
NYU’s class of 101 students has some of the strongest median GPAs and MCAT scores, especially considering that its tuition-free policy attracts a large number of applicants. During their medical oncology elective, students participate fully in the clinical, educational, and research activities of the Division of Oncology and the Department of Medicine. Students participate in weekly Oncology clinics at Bellevue and New York VA Hospitals and also attend multidisciplinary Oncology Conferences covering specialty areas such as breast cancer, gynecology, ENT, soft tissue tumors, and lung cancer. In addition, students participate in consultation and care of patients in the affiliated hospitals under the supervision of an Oncology Fellow and the Attending Physician in Oncology. In 2019, 1 NYU senior matched with a Radiology Oncology residency program.
Stanford offers multiple electives in oncology to third and fourth-year students, including Inpatient Medical Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology, and Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. In 2019, three Stanford seniors matched with residency programs in radiation oncology.
The Radiation and Cellular Oncology Department at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine offers a four-week clinical rotation where medical students 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 also find this course useful so they can better be able to coordinate and deliver optimal multi-disciplinary care and counsel future patients. The MCAT score range for the entering class was 505 to 528, the cumulative GPA range was 3.27 to 4.0, and 36.7% of the class took at least two gap years before entering medical school.
University of Michigan Medical School has several multi-disciplinary electives available for students with a particular interest in neuro-oncology, coordinated between radiation oncology, neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, neuroradiology and neuropathology, or for students who wish to gain a first-hand exposure to the integrated, multidisciplinary nature of cancer care. The entering class in 2019 had an average GPA of 3.78 and a class average MCAT percentile of 90.77.
The Keck School of Medicine of USC Department of Radiation Oncology offers four-week elective rotations for Keck Medicine of USC and visiting third and fourth year medical students. The Los Angeles-based medical school welcomes more than 180 new students each year. The Class of 2023 had an average GPA of 3.7 and a median MCAT score of 517. Students interact with actual patients from the first weeks in medical school at partnering hospitals such as Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Keck Hospital of USC. This hands-on clinical experience gives them the advantage of the public/private diversity of a community-based experience.
WashU offers a sub-internship in pediatric oncology where students assume the responsibilities of a pediatric resident on the inpatient Hematology/Oncology service at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the school is one of the most competitive schools to gain admission to.