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Radiation Oncology Specialty at a Glance

Students interested in a career in radiation oncology should complete a full one-month elective in radiation oncology at IU School of Medicine at the end of their third year or beginning of fourth year.

Match Statistics

Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score: 250
USMLE Step 2 CK 25th percentile: 241
USMLE Step 2 CK 75th percentile: 260
Average number of research experiences: 5
Average number of abstracts, presentations and publications: 15

  • Why should a student choose radiation oncology?

    A student should consider pursuing this specialty if their interests include:

    • clinical care

    • research

    • cancer patients

    • longitudinal patient relationships

    • focused/targeted therapy

  • Are there things students should do in Phase 1 (year 1 and 2) to prepare?

    The most important things for a phase 1 student interested in radiation oncology are:

    • Meet with a radiation oncologist to discuss the field and gain some firsthand knowledge about the training requirement and career opportunities.
    • spend a little time in the radiation oncology clinic. We are always happy to have phase 1 students for as little as a couple hours shadowing anytime they are available (over breaks, morning/afternoons when they do not have class, etc).

    Students who have any interest in radiation oncology, want to learn more or want to shadow in clinic are encouraged to reach out to Jordan Holmes ( and/or Kevin Shiue (

  • What electives are recommended for students pursuing radiation oncology?

    While there are no specific criteria we recommend, exploring radiation oncology during Phase 1 is flexible and highly encouraged. Even brief shadowing experiences, like a half-day clinic visit, can greatly enhance interest in the specialty. Early shadowing opportunities in medical school are recommended. For shadowing arrangements in Phase 1, please reach out to Dr. Jordan Holmes at

  • What sub-Is are recommended for radiation oncology?

    No specific sub-Is are required for this specialty.

  • Is an away rotation recommended for radiation oncology?

    Recommendations regarding away rotations vary. Some advise maximizing rotations, which is beneficial for applicants with less robust applications seeking to make a strong impression. Conversely, others suggest limiting rotations to one or two, especially for strong applicants who only risk diminishing their match chances with an away rotation. Away rotations can target specific regions, reach programs, or research interests. The program director and associate program director are available to discuss your unique circumstances.

  • How important is research? Does it have to be specialty specific?

    While not mandatory, engaging in cancer-specific research is often typical for applicants interested in radiation oncology. Students are encouraged to explore research opportunities with faculty at their home institution. Clinical rotations provide an excellent opportunity to connect with faculty and inquire about research possibilities. Given the application deadline in September, students must initiate contact with potential research mentors early to ensure completion or submission of research publications. Further logistics regarding research involvement can be discussed with a radiation oncology faculty member.

  • How long is radiation oncology residency training?

    Radiation oncology residency training is typically four years.

  • Are there any specialty-specific recommendations regarding letters of recommendation?

    Applicants must secure at least one letter of recommendation from a radiation oncology faculty or program, though multiple letters are often preferred. It is essential to initiate the letter request process as early as possible and provide all necessary information, including ID number, CV, personal statement, and any other required documents.

  • What are some useful resources for students considering this specialty?

    Here are some links to important resources for this specialty:

  • How does career mentoring at IU School of Medicine work in radiation oncology?

    In the Department of Radiation Oncology, career mentors are assigned to third and fourth year students, providing students with valuable guidance from faculty members. Students are expected to initiate contact, introduce themselves and seek mentorship by asking questions. Information and updates are frequently shared through the Radiation Oncology Student Interest Group. Interested students are encouraged to reach out directly to the program director, associate program director or specific faculty members to explore mentorship opportunities.