Assessing the value of an optional radiation oncology clinical rotation during the core clerkships in medical school

Nicholas G. Zaorsky, Theresa M. Malatesta, Robert B. Den, Evan Wuthrick, Peter H. Ahn, Maria Werner-Wasik, Wenyin Shi, Adam P. Dicker, P. Rani Anne, Voichita Bar-Ad, Timothy N. Showalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Few medical students are given proper clinical training in oncology, much less radiation oncology. We attempted to assess the value of adding a radiation oncology clinical rotation to the medical school curriculum. Methods and Materials: In July 2010, Jefferson Medical College began to offer a 3-week radiation oncology rotation as an elective course for third-year medical students during the core surgical clerkship. During 2010 to 2012, 52 medical students chose to enroll in this rotation. The rotation included outpatient clinics, inpatient consults, didactic sessions, and case-based presentations by the students. Tests of students' knowledge of radiation oncology were administered anonymously before and after the rotation to evaluate the educational effectiveness of the rotation. Students and radiation oncology faculty were given surveys to assess feedback about the rotation. Results: The students' prerotation test scores had an average of 64% (95% confidence interval [CI], 61-66%). The postrotation test scores improved to an average of 82% (95% CI, 80-83%; 18% absolute improvement). In examination question analysis, scores improved in clinical oncology from 63% to 79%, in radiobiology from 70% to 77%, and in medical physics from 62% to 88%. Improvements in all sections but radiobiology were statistically significant. Students rated the usefulness of the rotation as 8.1 (scale 1-9; 95% CI, 7.3-9.0), their understanding of radiation oncology as a result of the rotation as 8.8 (95% CI, 8.5-9.1), and their recommendation of the rotation to a classmate as 8.2 (95% CI, 7.6-9.0). Conclusions: Integrating a radiation oncology clinical rotation into the medical school curriculum improves student knowledge of radiation oncology, including aspects of clinical oncology, radiobiology, and medical physics. The rotation is appreciated by both students and faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e465-e469
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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