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Introduction to Radiation Oncology

Introduction to Radiation Oncology is a two-week introductory course, which allows students to explore the field of radiation oncology and/or to acquire knowledge in the specialty regarding appropriate referrals, consults, etc. relevant to future career plans. A maximum of two students per two-week period.

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.

Prerequisites

  • Successful completion of pre-clerkship coursework.

Periods Offered

  • Blocks 5, 6, and 7; potentially blocks 8, 9, 10, and 11 based on availability.

Methods of Instruction

Methods of instruction include attendance at and participation in clinic, case conferences, assigned patients under supervision of resident/attending, as well as didactic sessions with attendings and residents.

Methods of Evaluation

Assessment of medical knowledge and professionalism in clinic and conferences as detailed below.

Learning Goals, Objectives, and Assessments

Goals Objectives Assessment Methods 

Patient Care:

  • Students will learn the specialty-focused history, observe and learn aspects of performing physical examinations, on-treatment assessments, and management of acute toxicities.
  • 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 be able to take a specialty-specific medical history, perform a physical exam, and be aware of the approach to the patient in this specialty.
  • The student will be evaluated based on oral presentations in clinic, attendance and participation in conferences, and on sample documentation for assigned clinic patient.

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 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 weekly resident education conferences and/or disease-oriented team meetings (multidisciplinary management meetings) at UT Southwestern-affiliated hospitals.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills:

  • Students will learn to effectively communicate with colleagues and patients, and understand communications needs for placing consults to radiation oncology and to others for the multidisciplinary management of disease.
  • The student will take the medical history of assigned patients and be able to 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.
  • The student will be evaluated based on oral presentations in clinic, attendance and participation in conferences, and on sample documentation for assigned patients.

Professionalism:

  • Students will demonstrate respect for patients and colleagues.
  • 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 be evaluated based on the timeliness and quality of required work, through direct observation of interactions with faculty, residents, clinical staff, and patients, as well as attendance and participation in rounds.

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement:

  • Students will be able to identify their limits and set goals for improvement.
  • The student will learn to identify their own strengths, deficiencies, and limits of their knowledge.
  • The student will set individual learning and improvement goals for their time spent in radiation oncology.
  • 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.

System-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.
  • 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 of how well they demonstrate an understanding of the resources available to provide optimal patient care and when to effectively use them.

Schedule

Students will be assigned to participate with a number of service attendings and their resident and/or nurse during the two-week period.

Time and Location

Training is at 8:30 a.m. in the Radiation Oncology Building on East Campus. Exception is first day of class, which starts at 8 a.m. in NF2.322.

Recommended Reading

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