Job satisfaction in radiation oncology is high, but interest in related fellowships low

Radiation oncology job satisfaction is high, though interest in radiation oncology fellowships remains low, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“In an effort to better characterize the extent and impact of residency expansion and job placement, we conducted a multilevel survey of radiation oncologists exploring the current state of the radiation oncology employment market,” wrote lead author Karna Sura, MD, of Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and colleagues. 

Sura and colleagues issued a multi-level survey to 752 participants. Those surveyed were categorized into five groups in radiation oncology: chairpersons, program directors, new practitioners (who were at least one year out of residency), new residency graduates (radiation oncology postgraduate year 5 graduates with new jobs) and medical students. The survey was created using a Likert scale.

Of the chairpersons surveyed, 47 percent considered expanding their residency programs “in the near future.” Also, 41 percent believe fellowships will become standard in radiation oncology. A total of 57 percent of program directors noted no plans to expand their residencies and 62 percent of them do not believe fellowships will become standard in radiology. 

The researchers found that fewer than 10 percent of surveyed individuals were dissatisfied with their current positions. 

“Resident job satisfaction remains high at 85 percent of new graduates and 78 percent of new practitioners who were moderately to very satisfied with their future and/or current employment,” the authors wrote. 

About 85 percent of new practitioners and 81 percent of new graduates were moderately to very satisfied with the location of practice. Interestingly, the most sought after employment locations were in the Northeast (40 percent) and the South (40 percent).

“Geographic location remains a very important aspect of the job search and employment satisfaction,” the authors wrote.

Less than 10 percent of new graduates and new practitioners were interested in fellowship positions. Among the current graduates and new practitioners, the researchers found only one radiation oncologist in each group pursued a fellowship due to the inability to find an academic position instead of a fellowship and application improvement for future employment. 

“Resident job satisfaction remains high, whereas interest in radiation oncology fellowships remains low,” Sura and colleagues noted. “Conflicting perceptions regarding the job market and residency expansion could have downstream impacts, such as deterring potential applicants.”

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Editor's note: The headline from a previous version of this story has been updated.