The Duke Program

Radiation Oncology Residency Overview

Residents treat patients at the Duke Cancer Institute, on the Duke Medical Center campus, and at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center, which is within walking distance.

  • Radiation Oncology allows Residents a chance to really get to know their patients. They will follow the same patient from initial consult, therapy planning, and through several weeks of daily treatments.
  • Our current Resident complement is 13 including: 12 Traditional Track residents and 1 Radiation Oncology Research Scholar.


Rotations are in 3-month blocks.  At the Duke Cancer Center, there are 6 different radiation oncology services dedicated to specific disease sites. Residents will rotate one or more times in each of the 6 clinical services. Some of the clinical services are combined into a joint-service rotation.

Gynecology Service/Sarcoma Service (GYN/Sarc)

Head and Neck Service (H&N)

Lung/Lymphoma (L/L)

Central Nervous System/Pediatrics Service (CNS/Peds)

Gastrointestinal Service (GI)

  • Breast Cancer Service (Breast)

While the radiation oncology clinic at the Durham V.A. is generalized, the majority of cases include lung, head and neck, GI, and prostate cancer. Residents will rotate at the V.A. 3 or more times, at successive levels in the program.

Residents are assigned to scholarly activity in their 3rd year for 12 months.

Typically in each rotation, there is 1 Resident assigned to each of the 6 Duke clinical services, 3 residents assigned to the V.A., and 3 residents assigned to scholarly activity.  The order of assignments to clinical services will vary for each resident.

Sample Schedule

Rotation 1
Rotation 2
Rotation 3
Rotation 4

Breast Service




GYN/Sarcoma DK







Scholarly Activity

Scholarly Activity

Scholarly Activity

Scholarly Activity



Resident Elective


Resident Elective

Call Schedule

Resident are assigned to evening and weekend call for a week at a time, paired with an attending.  During this week, the Residents cover the Durham VA Medical Center and Duke University Hospital (located across the street from each other).  On call residents are expected to see new consults, follow-up on inpatients and outpatients with active urgent issues, and treat patients needing urgent/emergent radiation treatments together with the on call attending.

Typically call distribution is PGY-2: 7 weeks, PGY-3: 5 weeks, PGY-4: 4 weeks, PGY-5: 2 weeks.

Cancer Biology/Medical Physics

Residents must complete formal courses in Medical Physics and Cancer Biology. These courses alternate each year and are taught from September through April, from 4:30 to 6:00 PM.  Topics in each course are updated to meet the training requirements set by the American Board of Radiology.

Cancer Biology is taught as a joint program between the Duke and University of North Carolina Radiation Oncology Departments.  The course has been so successful that other institutions have joined including North Carolina State University, Wake Forest University, University of Tennessee/West Cancer Center, and State University of New York Upstate (Syracuse).

Traditional Radiation Oncology Residency:

36 months clinical activity

12 months protected scholarly time for individualized resident-driven, translational, and/or laboratory based project

The Radiation Oncology Research Scholar Track:

Designed to facilitate the growth of independent laboratory based physician scientists. It is an integrated Residency and post-Residency Instructorship including 21 months mentored research during residency and 24 months mentored research after residency.

Morning Conferences

The Department of Radiation Oncology holds educational activities every weekday morning from 8:00 to 9:00 AM.   Residents direct the educational content themselves, and the Chief Residents schedules speakers and topics.  Chief Residents are encouraged to develop their own program of Morning Conference topics to meet the clinical learning needs of the residents.

  • Resident Report – Resident leads practice-based sessions on specific types of cancer and the most current guidelines for treatment
  • Journal Club – Resident leads discussion of articles from leading cancer journals, especially “The Red Journal”
  • Mortality/Morbidity (M&M) – Residents leads review of specific cases where significant toxicities occurred
  • Faculty Lectures - Department faculty present a series of interative lectures focusing on their cancer specialty (e.g., GYN cancers, CNS, Breast, etc.)
  • Tumor Boards/Chart Rounds – the pathology and treatment regimen of current cases are discussed at multimodality conferences in other departments such as GU, H&N, Sarcoma, and the V.A.
  • Grand Rounds – eminent faculty in Radiation Oncology are invited to visit Duke
  • Simulation Training - Skills based learning in the Duke School of Medicine Simulation Lab
  • Oncoanatomy – unique program at Duke Radiation Oncology. First, a Resident leads a didactic session on the types of cancers that invade particular anatomic sites. A following session is held in the Gross Anatomy Lab.
  • Evidence Based Medicine and Medical Ethics are taught as short courses during Morning Conference time.
  • Misc. topics include updates on clinical practices in dosimetry, treatment planning, medical physics, patient safety, etc.

Other Educational Opportunities

  • Visiting Professors – Residents discuss cases with eminent radiation oncologists invited to Duke, plus attend dinner and lunch with the invited speaker.
  • Chairman’s Rounds – Residents meet with the Radiation Oncology Department Chairman to discuss cases and the clinical application of current research
  • Duke Cancer Institute Grand Rounds - Residents attend monthly invited speaker series and interact with attendings and trainees in other cancer disciplines
  • Retreats – annual conferences with specific focus such as cancer biology research, medical physics research, or patient safety improvement.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Series - Residents meet with eminent radiation oncolgists experts in diversity and inclusion topics invited to Duke
  • Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program (ROIP): the Duke Cancer Institute hosts a series of special programs on current advances in imaging for radiation therapy
  • GME Certificate programs – residents may “minor” in several areas of concentration
    • Resident as Teacher
    • Patient Safety & Quality Improvement
    • Law, Ethics & Health Policy
    • Leaders in Medicine
    • Research in Education

Every week, there are numerous presentations, research retreats, and seminars offered throughout Duke University Medical Center and nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In addition, Duke's School of Law and School of Business host special presentations and seminar series addressing legal, ethical, and financial concerns in the field of medicine.

Oncoanatomy Course

Access the course paper here.


The  Duke Office of Graduate Medical Education ("GME") does much more than ensure continued accreditation of fellowship and residency training programs.  All trainees benefit from the extensive support and unique opportunities that Duke GME provides.

  • Resident participation in Duke committees on medical education and patient safety
  • Programs offering "minors" in 4 areas of concentration
  • The annual Snyderman Award for resident research
  • "The Bunker" --a residents-only facility with exercise equipment, sleeping/shower accomodations, and lounge area
  • GME Week activities, including chance to win 2 tickets to Duke men's basketball game
  • Financial and student-debt counseling
  • Seed grants for innovation in teaching graduate medical education