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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Radiation Oncology (Preclinical Years)


The preclinical years are important for students considering a career in radiation oncology. 


With so many highly qualified applicants to choose among, radiation oncology residency programs also look for involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, and research. According to the 2016 NRMP Program Director Survey:


  • Leadership qualities are cited by 56% of programs as a factor used to make interview decisions.

  • Demonstrated involvement or interest in research is cited by 85% as a factor used to make interview decisions.

  • Volunteer/extracurricular activities are cited by 48% of programs as a factor used to make interview decisions.


The preclinical years are an excellent time to build these credentials.



3 Ways To Build Your Credentials In Radiation Oncology As a Preclinical Student



1 Because radiation oncology is one of the most competitive specialties, students with an early interest in the field should seriously consider participation in research. Schools with academic radiation oncology departments often provide research opportunities for students following their first year. Preclinical students are eligible to apply for the Simon Kramer Externship in Radiation Oncology. Through this program, students spend six weeks at an academic radiation oncology department working on a clinical research project and shawdowing radiation oncologists. 



2 The Radiological Society of North America encourages students interested in radiological sciences to apply for their Research Medical Student Grant. At least ten weeks must be spent on a full time basis performing research in a department of radiology, radiation oncology, or nuclear medicine. 



3 The American Society for Radiation Oncology offers the Minority Summer Fellowship Award to support medical students from underrepresented minority groups. Through this program, students are introduced to the discipline of radiation oncology early in medical training. The experience allows students to receive "a unique training opportunity that focuses on mentoring and hands-on experience" in the field.



For more information on how to stand out in Radiation Oncology as a preclinical student, turn to our book Success in Medical School: Insider Advice for the Preclinical Years