Residents typically cover three Attendings per three month rotation. The schedule is structured so that a resident is only responsible for consultations of a single Attending at any given time in clinic. Call occurs in weekly blocks, with approximately seven calls annually.
Residents also rotate through the Ann Arbor VA once during their first year of residency, and usually at least one more time during their senior rotations as a senior resident. The VA is conveniently located one mile from the main hospital. During the senior rotation, residents also travel to Providence Hospital in Novi, MI, on Mondays and Wednesdays to perform prostate brachytherapy implants and planning with University of Michigan faculty. A university car is available for transport to and from Novi during this time period.
During their final year, residents will have three months of elective time. Commonly, this will be used to enhance understanding of clinical physics or dosimetry. Many residents also choose to use this time to become more experienced in a particular treatment technique or disease site.
All residents making satisfactory clinical progress are able to spend their entire PGY 4 focusing on research. In the interest of productivity, the residents do not have clinic responsibilities (i.e. no call, morning conference) during the research year. In addition, most residents find time to engage in research in clinical years as well. The department supports residents presenting their research at conferences, and covers expenses for up to two conferences per year.
During PGY-1, residents spend time at another institution doing a transitional year. During this year, residents split between working on medicine floors and various electives. When working on medicine floors a day typically starts around 6:30 AM. During morning rounds, you will discuss the day's plan for each of your patients with your senior resident and attending. Most transitional residents really enjoy the mix of supervision and autonomy on inpatient floor months. The clinical day is spent seeing patients, discussing treatment plans, and then ensuring that those plans are executed. During the year you will have the opportunity to treat a wide variety of diseases in an even wider patient population. This has been incredibly educational and rewarding, and has helped to develop a better understanding of the unique barriers to care that arise for many hospitalized patients. Elective months can be equally exciting, with exposure to such fields as neurosurgery, pathology, and pulmonology among others.
The PGY 2 year is spent rotating among various disease sites including breast, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal, pediatric and central nervous system, among others. PGY2's do typically cover two attendings in addition to the occasional on-call week. New consults range from the malignancies commonly seen in the community to those uncommonly seen even at academic medical centers. No two cases are the same. You will present each case to an attending that will see the patient again with you and discuss the case. Disease sites and cases are discussed at Morning Conference on Monday and Thursday morning from 7:45 to 8:30 am. In addition, there are Physics and Radiobiology classes once per week. This is known as protected time, and residents are expected to attend without clinical responsibility. The rest of the day entails developing and evaluating patient treatment plans, attending tumor boards, interacting with other providers, and problem solving any issues that come up in clinic. The expectations are high, but the attendings and senior residents are approachable, and the Program Director is supportive.
During your PGY-3 (i.e. second) year in the program, you will continue to expand and build on the clinical experiences of your first year and start to think about what types of research questions you will want to explore during your third year. The year is structured in much the same way as your first year in that you rotate primarily through 2-3 month blocks working with an attending that specializes in various disease sites. A typical day usually begins around 7:00 or 7:30 am with plans, you will have either Morning Conference, Treatment Planning Conference, Physics Class, or Chart Rounds on each day starting at 7:30 or 7:45 am. During clinic days, you generally will spend the majority of the day seeing a mixture of new patient consultations, return visits, simulation scans, and on-treatment visits. After clinic, you will work on contouring volumes for the patients that underwent simulation scans. Beyond consolidating your knowledge in clinic, a crucial goal for this year is to delve more deeply into the types of questions being addressed on a national and international stage by attending more research conferences. Overall, this is an exciting year of growth during residency.
The PGY 4 year is spent working closely with your faculty on research projects, as well as continuing your didactic education classes including Morning Conference, Treatment Planning Conference, and Resident Lecture Series. In your PGY 4 year you may select doing basic and translational research in the Radiation Oncology laboratories. These research projects lead to national conference presentations, publications, and independent research grants that will form the foundation of your academic career. Additionally, collaborations are established through these projects that will be vital to your continued success as an independent researcher. On a typical day, you will attend a didactic class in the Radiation Oncology clinical department area at 7:30 or 7:45am. The rest of your day is spent in the laboratory area performing experiments or analyzing data, and in research meetings or conference calls with collaborators. About one half-day per week will be spent seeing patients to maintain and expand clinical skills. The end of the PGY-4 year is an exciting time as many transitions take place. This is also the time that the job search begins, and a time to study for your written board exams. Based on all of this, the PGY-4 year is a major step toward becoming an independent clinician and researcher.
The PGY 5 year is designed to facilitate consolidation of your clinical knowledge, with opportunity to create learning experiences tailored to your interests. In addition to planning the clinic schedule, senior residents are allotted three months of elective to pursue clinical and research interests. The didactic schedule is very similar to previous years, with completion of the Physics, Radiobiology and Statistics courses culminating in the written boards in July of the PGY 5 year.