The Department of Radiation Oncology offers a challenging four-year program intended to prepare physicians for a highly successful career in radiation oncology. The goal of the residency program is to develop a life-long quest for learning that prepares residents to deal with the problems of today with an eye to the solutions of tomorrow. Residents will acquire a broad base of skills and knowledge in clinical radiotherapy and translational oncology, and work with the most modern techniques and equipment available.
Established in 1824 as one of the nation’s first medical schools, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) provides the most up to date care and biomedical research available in South Carolina and the Southeast. In an era of shrinking research dollars, the University has increased its research funds dramatically over the last decade, placing it in the upper tiers of medical schools in terms of research dollars with over $247 million in research funds in 2015.
The Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) at MUSC is among fewer than 70 cancer centers that have achieved recognition as a National Cancer Institute designated Cancer Center. It hosts the MUSC Department of Radiation Oncology in the main HCC building, with over 200,000 square feet of multidisciplinary clinics, research laboratories, conference facilities, and more. Core facilities include biostatistics support, flow cytometry and cell sorting, cell and molecular imaging, small animal imaging, tissue biorepository, gene targeting and knockout, lipidomics synthesis and analysis, cellular therapy, drug discovery and screening, and clinical trials support. HCC has over $43 million in research funding. Research programs include Cancer Immunology, Cancer Genes & Molecular Regulation, Developmental Cancer Therapeutics, and Cancer Control. U.S. News and World Report ranks the Hollings Cancer Center in the top 50 cancer centers in the U.S. for 2015-2016.
The Department of Radiation Oncology is actively engaged in a number of research areas including evaluating the effects of tobacco and other health behaviors on cancer treatment outcomes as relating to: 1) implementing evidence-based tobacco cessation support for cancer patients, 2) evaluating the effects of tobacco and cessation on clinical outcomes and quality of life, 3) identifying critical biologic mechanisms of therapeutic resistance caused by tobacco and tobacco related products, and 4) participating in influencing national and international tobacco control policy. Other departmental research efforts include investigating causes of racial disparities in cancer outcomes, especially as influenced by vitamin D levels. In addition, Department of Radiation Oncology faculty are developing immunologic methods to treat cancer, using vaccine-mediated approaches to induce specific anti-tumor immune responses in cancer patients. Significant collaborations exist between faculty in the Department of Radiation Oncology and investigators throughout Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC. Through this translational approach, significant opportunities are available for students, residents, and faculty to perform active prospective research to enhance patient treatment outcomes.
As an integral part of the Hollings Cancer Center, the department provides radiation therapy in a high-tech, multidisciplinary environment. Physicians from all the pertinent specialties see and discuss patients at disease-specific clinics and tumor boards, which meet with a genuine esprit-de-corps providing a comprehensive approach to patient management. These multidisciplinary teams and tumor boards include Breast Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Thoracic Cancer, Hematological Cancers/Lymphoma, Gastrointestinal Cancer, Genitourinary Cancer, Neurologic Cancer, Pediatric Malignancies, Melanoma and Aggressive Skin Cancer, Sarcoma, and Gynecologic Cancer. Residents also gain rare and valuable insight into the late toxicity of radiotherapy by attending our Long-term Pediatric Oncology Survivor’s Clinic.
The Department endeavors to develop and promote the most modern treatment techniques. We have active programs in stereotactic radiosurgery with GammaKnife® Perfexion™, stereotactic body radiosurgery, fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy, total body irradiation for bone marrow transplant, high- and low-dose rate brachytherapy including MammoSite®, Contura®, and Savi® applicators for partial breast irradiation and real-time intraoperative planning for prostate seed implants using QuinkLink® for constructing custom-built seed trains in the OR. Residents also gain experience in the use of Ra-223 dichloride and Y-90 microspheres therapy. We have multiple approaches for delivering intensity modulated radiotherapy including Tomotherapy® and linac-based methods including volumetric-modulated arc therapy. We are installing our third Varian TrueBeam™ linear accelerator in the fall of 2016. We have multiple solutions for motion management as well as intra-fraction monitoring.
We have the highest expectations for the performance of our resident physicians. We support this prospect with dedicated time each morning for didactic education. Our lecture series from 8 to 9 am each day (8 to 10am on Thursdays) rotates between formal didactic presentations by Radiation Oncology or guest faculty, resident-led reviews, Journal Club, Radiation Biology, Clinical Physics, and peer-review chart rounds. This time is protected for the residents to ensure they receive the didactic education required of a well-rounded training program in Radiation Oncology. Resident research and training is supported financially as well, with book-funds and travel support for national and international meetings, in addition to elective rotations for research efforts. Each resident is supplied with a desktop computer and an iPad® to facilitate the educational process and manage patient care. Pagers for residents are currently being replaced with IPhones® provided by MUSC.
Our department participates in the ERAS match program. Our ACGME ID number is 4304521092. Successful applicants for our resident training program will complete a clinical internship/preliminary year after medical school at an ACGME-approved program in Transitional Medicine, Internal Medicine, or General Surgery. The Department of Surgery at MUSC has put together an excellent preliminary year program specifically for interns interested in Radiation Oncology. Residents are expected to pass the USMLE part 3 and a background check during their internship year, before beginning their residency program in our department.
For more information on our resident training program, please contact:
Ms. Tanya Byers, Program Coordinator
Department of Radiation Oncology
169 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425