Program Rotations

Program rotations in the Radiation Oncology Residency Program are conducted in the areas of clinical, physics, and research.


During the 48 months of the program, at least 36 will be spent in the full-time clinical oncology rotations outlined in the curriculum. Rotation sites are all within 8 miles of Shadyside Hospital. The remaining 12 months will be comprised of physics (1 month), a research rotation, optional non-oncology electives (e.g. radiology, pathology), and an optional International rotation at UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre in Waterford, Ireland (4 weeks).

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Clinical Rotations

Residents are assigned to a faculty member who mentors for that individual disease-oriented rotation. The resident is responsible for seeing new consults with the attending and dictating a history and physical examination for each. The resident is also responsible for seeing on-treatment and follow-up patients with the attending and dictating appropriate notes. Residents will participate in all simulation and treatment planning activities for their patients under the supervision of their attending, follow patients’ tumor response and tolerance to treatment, participate actively in the medical decision making process and participate in long-term follow-up clinics.

Didactic lectures will, in general, take priority over clinical activities for residents. Residents will be excused from their clinical duties during didactic activities that occur during the workday.

Disease-Oriented Clinical Rotations

These include lung, breast, genito-urinary, gastrointestinal, gynecological, central nervous system, head and neck and hematological malignancies.

Pediatric Oncology Rotation

Experience in pediatric radiation oncology is gained through a 3-month rotation at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Minimum number of cases is met during this rotation. Residents also are responsible for participating in the weekly pediatric tumor board and will rotate with a Pediatric Medical Oncologist during this rotation.


The physics rotation emphasizes the clinical application of principles learned in the didactic course. It is a four-week rotation in the third year of training (PGY 4). Residents spend time in dosimetry/treatment planning and become familiar with the simulators and treatment machines and physics quality assurance procedures. In this environment, teaching is done on a one-to-one basis.

The general organization of the course is: 2 2-hour sessions per week.

Session 1: teach how to plan a given disease site, and assign the resident a patient to plan.

Session 2: review plans from session 1, teach a plan for the next disease site, and assign a patient to plan.

Includes a 2-hr lecture on IMRT planning and a 2-hr lecture on SRS planning.

Opportunities for physics research are available.


The research rotation aims at developing the skills necessary to plan, conduct and critically review research. The faculty will teach the residents research design, statistics and critical review of literature and assists in the selection of research topics for development. Tumor registry, research meetings, the radiobiology and physics research programs, state-of-the-art research facilities and staff all offer research opportunities to the residents. Residents will be required to engage in faculty supervised research projects, either laboratory, physics or clinical. Project results will be suitable for publication and presentation at local, state, or national meetings. The institution supports and funds the research initiative and provides funding for resident travel to meetings.