Medical Student Exposure to Radiation Oncology Through the Pre-clerkship Residency Exploration Program (PREP): Effect on Career Interest and Understanding of Radiation Oncology

  • T. Sebastian Haupt
  • Todd Dow
  • Mike Smyth
  • J. Thomas Toguri
  • Alysha Roberts
  • K. L. Raju
  • David BowesEmail author


Medical students receive little exposure to Radiation Oncology (RO) during pre-clinical training and clerkship. Pre-clerkship Residency Exploration Program (PREP) was developed by medical students at our institution to provide students with exposure to disciplines like RO with which they may not have had previous exposure, with the goal of helping with career decision making. The purpose of this study was to review how PREP affected self-reported interest in RO. PREP is a 2-week intensive elective developed by students at Dalhousie University that provides exposure to 12 specialties, including RO. PREP includes five components: half day clinical rotations, skills sessions, simulations, specialty-specific workshops, and lunchtime panel discussions. PREP participants completed questionnaires pre- and post-participation to assess career interest and understanding of Radiation Oncology. Forty participants took part in PREP. Thirty-six responded to pre-PREP questionnaires and 37 to the post-PREP questionnaire. Participants reported increasing interest in RO (24 students, 64.8%) and an increase in the understanding of the role and responsibilities of a radiation oncologist such that they felt comfortable making a career decision about RO. In pre-PREP, five (13.8%) participants listed RO as a top 3 career choice. Post-program, this number increased to nine (25.0%) of the same surveyed participants. PREP has demonstrated early exposure to RO can increase interest in RO as a career choice. Early clinical exposure experiences like we describe here may be useful for specialties such as RO, which is having difficulty filling residency positions in Canada despite an optimistic job forecast for trainees.


Pre-clerkship Residency Exploration Program (PREP) Radiation Oncology (RO) Career decisions CaRMS Medical school Elective 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics approval was provided by the Nova Scotia Health Authority Research Ethics Board (File No. 1023087).


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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