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Radiation Oncology Elective - RAD2102

RAD2102, a four-week elective, is for medical students contemplating the field of radiation oncology and/or who would like to gain knowledge in the specialty regarding appropriate referrals, consults, patient management, etc. relevant to future career plans. 

Students will:

  • Learn about the scope of practice, frequently encountered pathology/diagnoses, and specialty-specific clinical assessments, including diagnostic procedures, treatment planning and delivery, on-treatment management, and long-term follow-up for patients treated with radiation therapy for benign and malignant presentations.
  • Have the opportunity to attend multidisciplinary tumor boards.
  • Observe treatment planning for external beam and brachytherapy procedures.
  • Have the opportunity to present on a topic of their choosing relevant to the field of radiation oncology and their experience on the rotation at the end of the elective. 


  • Third-year internal medicine clerkship.

Periods Offered

  • Blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, and 11.


  • Blocks 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • Blocks 8, 9, 10, and 11.

Methods of Instruction

  • Didactic: Students will attend clinical, radiobiology, and radiation physics education sessions with the radiation oncology residents.
  • Clinical: Students will work with different radiation oncology attendings and mid-level providers throughout the course seeing new patient consults, patient management on-treatment visits, and follow-up appointments. Pending availability, medical students may also observe procedures in the operating and procedure rooms. Students will attend journal club and chart rounds in the Department of Radiation Oncology and multidisciplinary conferences.  (Conference schedule provided upon arrival.)

Methods of Evaluation

Evaluation based on assessment methods listed below. Grade is pass/fail.

Student Responsibilities

  • Medical students are expected to be present at all clinical, radiobiology, and radiation physics education sessions attended by the residents, as well as weekly chart rounds.
  • Students will coordinate with the service resident/mid-level/attending for each day they are scheduled in clinic to understand the agenda and identify patients for workup, as well as relevant multidisciplinary conferences to attend.
  • For patients seen in the clinic, students will submit documentation in a timely manner to the service resident/mid-level/attending for review.
  • Students will present on a topic of their choosing relevant to the field of radiation oncology and their experience on the rotation at the end of the elective. The topic will be reviewed in advance by the program director and a service attending relevant to the proposed topic.

Learning Goals, Objectives, and Assessments

Goals Objectives Assessment Methods
Patient Care:
  • Students will learn to provide compassionate, appropriate, and effective patient care for the treatment of cancer and promotion of patient health.
  • Students will demonstrate the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to perform appropriately focused and accurate histories and physical assessments and accurately document the findings in the health record.
  • Students will learn to evaluate the roles of surgery and chemotherapy, in addition to radiation therapy, for individual patients.
  • Students will observe and learn aspects of on-treatment assessments and management of acute toxicities.
  • Students will learn the basics of treatment planning, radiation physics, and radiation biology in the selection of treatment modalities.
  • The student will be able to list appropriate indications to consult Radiation Oncology.
  • The student will be able to perform the appropriate evaluation of a patient and develop a well-constructed consult to this specialty.
  • The student will review medical records and radiographic studies and perform history-taking and physical examinations of new and follow-up patients.
  • The student will present the patients to the supervising attending physician, including staging of the patient, and learn to make treatment recommendations.
  • The student will interact with providers in other specialties co-managing patient care.
  • Quality of medical records entries.
  • Skills evaluation from direct observation.
  • The student will be evaluated based on oral presentations in clinic, attendance, and participation in conferences.
Medical Knowledge:
  • Students will learn the pathophysiology and management of the most common diagnoses encountered in radiation oncology.
  • The student will be able to discuss the pathology, presentation, evaluation, and management of common diagnoses such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, CNS malignancies, GI malignancies, GYN malignancies, lung cancer, sarcoma, and head and neck cancer.
  • The student will demonstrate an analytic approach to evaluating and treating the cancer patient (e.g., which diagnostic studies to obtain, review biopsy results, disease-staging).
  • The student will learn the indications and complications for external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy procedures.
  • The student will be evaluated based on attendance and participation in the clinic, weekly resident education conferences, and/or disease-oriented team meetings (multidisciplinary management meetings) at UT Southwestern and affiliated hospitals.
  • 30-minute oral presentation.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills:
  • Students will practice effective communication with other health care professionals, patients and their families.
  • Students will learn to understand communications needs for placing consults to Radiation Oncology and to others for the multidisciplinary management of disease.
  • The student will interview patients in the course of performing a history and physical (H&P) and effectively present a summary to the faculty/team.
  • The student will attend conferences as above and will be asked to participate in discussion of cases at these conferences.
  • Direct observations of faculty and staff.
  • The student will be evaluated based on oral presentations in clinic, attendance and participation in conferences, and on sample documentation for assigned patients.
Practice-Based Learning and Improvement:
  • Students will identify their limits and set goals for improvement.
  • Students will learn sources of information regarding evidence-based treatment with radiation therapy and learn to evaluate published data.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to assimilate scientific evidence and improve patient care practices.
  • The student will learn to identify their own strengths, deficiencies, and limits of their knowledge.
  • The student will perform literature searches to determine data to support treatment recommendations.
  • The student will review medical records, lab results, and radiographic studies in the electronic medical record.
  • The student will be evaluated based on observation of how well they identify their strengths, deficiencies, and limits in their knowledge and their growth from their learning and improvement goals.
  • Students will demonstrate respect for patients and colleagues.
  • Students will demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles, and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.
  • The student will be punctual and complete all required work.
  • The student will demonstrate respect and compassion for others.
  • The student will demonstrate respect for patient privacy and autonomy.
  • The student will learn the psychosocial issues affecting cancer patients, including end-of-life issues.
  • The student will protect the privacy of patients seen in the clinic and treatment areas.
  • The student will be evaluated based on the timeliness and quality of required work.
  • The student will be evaluated through direct observation of interactions with faculty, residents, clinical staff, and patients.
  • The student will be evaluated based on their attendance and participation in conferences and rounds.
Systems-Based Practice:
  • Students will develop a general awareness of the health system as a whole and identify when to utilize select resources to provide appropriate patient care.
  • Know how Radiation Oncology fits into the larger system of health care.
  • The student will develop an awareness of the larger context to and basic understanding of the system of health care including cost awareness and risk-benefit analysis.
  • The student will gain basic knowledge to be able to identify when to call on other resources within the system to provide optimal patient care.
  • The student will be evaluated based on observation by faculty and staff regarding how well they demonstrate an understanding of the resources available to provide optimal patient care and when to effectively use them.


Course lasts four weeks, with no less than 30 hours per week.

Time and Location 

Training is at 8:30 a.m. in the Radiation Oncology Building on East Campus.

Recommended Reading

Clinical Radiation Oncology, 4th edition, editors Gunderson LL, Tepper JE, Elsevier (2016); available in UTSW library in electronic form.