UCSD’s radiation oncology residency program provides a comprehensive training experience that encompasses clinical radiation oncology, radiobiology, and radiation physics, as required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Clinical rotations are arranged on a 3-month block schedule. In an apprenticeship model, the resident is paired with one (very rarely two) attending during each rotation; each attending has a dedicated nurse case manager and administrative assistant. Every attending has a primary disease-site concentration. Residents focus their reading and clinical learning on the designated disease-site.
Starting the first day of residency, residents are involved in all aspects of clinical radiation oncology. Residents will see patients in the outpatient clinic, where patients present for initial consultation and return for follow-up care. Several disease sites, including head and neck, are composed of a multi-disciplinary clinic, including surgical and medical oncologists. Following initial consult, residents are involved in all aspects of the treatment planning, from ensuring proper simulation to contouring to reviewing treatment plans, under supervision by the attending physician in a graduated autonomy model. Residents present their own patients and describe the treatment plans at weekly chart rounds. Residents are also involved in weekly on-treatment visits and provide continuity of care for their patients throughout treatment and follow-up.
Residents see patients with early stage tumors post-lumpectomy, as well as post-mastectomy and patients that have completed neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Residents are exposed to a wide variety of both malignant and benign tumors of the brain and spine. There is an emphasis on an understanding of imaging techniques, and their interpretation and use in planning.
UCSD treats a substantial number of GI patients with esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, liver, and colorectal and anal cancers using 3D-CRT, IMRT, and SBRT.
Our GU service includes primarily prostate (definitive and post-op), bladder, and testicular cancers, as well as cases of penile and urethral cancers.
Residents are involved with the treatment of all GYN cancers including cervical and endometrial cancers, but also vulvar and vaginal cancer.
Our Head and Neck service includes a variety of patients with tumors of the oropharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, hypopharynx, salivary gland, and thyroid.
Our Hematology service is one of the largest lymphoma programs in the country, due in large part to collaborations with medical oncology.
All residents are supported for a one-month international elective.
Our lung cancer service includes primarily primary lung cancer (both NSCLC and SCLC), as well as thymoma and mesothelioma.
Residents are involved in the palliative treatment of patients with uncontrolled primary and/or metastatic disease.
Our pediatrics rotation is combined with proton therapy, given that the majority of our pediatrics patients now have access to protons for treatment.
Three San Diego County satellite clinics (Encinitas, 4S Ranch, South Bay) are approved for residents to spend one block in their last year.
In San Diego there is a particularly high volume of skin cancer, allowing one of our research attendings, Dr. Andrew Sharabi, to dedicate his primary clinical focus to this disease.
Each rotation ends with a form “boards style” oral examination, performed by the Chair, Program Director and Service Chief. The exam is not tailored to the year of the resident but instead exposes all residents to an actual exam scored on the traditional 5-point scale and delivered without prompts or feedback, allowing residents to gauge their progress throughout the residency.