Student Elective

A 4-week elective in Clinical Radiation Oncology is offered for interested 4th year medical students at accredited U.S. medical schools. We provide outstanding clinical experiences in general radiation oncology, as well as special procedures including gynecologic brachytherapy, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and stereotactic body radiotherapy, and are happy to tailor a clinical experience that fits your interests. Participation in clinical or laboratory research is also available for interested students.

We are pleased to announce the availability of travel grants ($2,000 per rotator) to offset housing and transportation costs for students visiting from outside medical schools. Travel grants will be available on a rolling basis (no deadline). If you would like to apply for a travel grant, please email your current CV and a brief (<1 page) statement of interest to Rob Hart (Program Coordinator) at

All students applying for a visiting elective in our department must file an application through the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. For additional information about the application procedure, please visit the Visiting Students page at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs.

Rotation Objectives

  • Gain an understanding of general indications for the use of radiation to treat malignant and benign disease.
  • Learn basics of clinical treatment planning for external beam radiotherapy.
  • Obtain experience with special treatment procedures including brachytherapy, radiosurgery, and stereotactic body radiation.
  • Understand role of the radiation oncologist within the cancer care team.
  • Learn how evidence from the medical literature is incorporated into clinical decision-making for cancer care.
  • Review the basics of radiation biology and medical physics and applications within the clinic.

Rotation Expectations

  • Evaluate patients in the clinic under the guidance of faculty and residents.
  • Participate in simulation, contouring, plan evaluation, and patient setup.
  • Attend multidisciplinary clinics, tumor boards, and resident didactics.
  • Observe delivery of external beam, brachytherapy, and Gamma Knife treatments.
  • At the end of the rotation, give a 30-minute presentation on a topic of interest in radiation oncology.


Program Directors:

Susannah Ellsworth, MD

Austin Vargo, MD

Academic Manager:

Rob Hart

Chief Residents:

Mohamed Abdelhakiem, MD

Sean Koerner, MD