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Residency Program Information

The Nuts & Bolts of What We Do


Summary
Our two-year program strives for clinical and professional excellence.  Our program is well organized, in order to ensure the breadth of topics in radiation oncology is covered.  The resident is fully integrated into the medical physics team, and we emphasize a teaching approach of supervised hands-on learning.

Program requirements are described in the followed sections.  They have been carefully designed in order to collectively provide the successful resident with the technical, clinical, and professional skills for the board certification examination and to practice independently in radiation oncology physics.
 
Workflow, Equipment, and Dosimetry (2 months)
Chief Mentor:  Bernard "Tripp" Jones
The resident will complete orientations through the university and within the department. The resident will observe patient visits with the radiation oncologists as well as participate in CT simulation and treatment delivery.  The resident will become familiar with the operation of the machines and radiation detector equipment used in the clinic.
 
3D and Advanced Treatment Planning (5 months)
Chief Mentor:  Kelly Stuhr
The resident will learn fundamental treatment planning concepts for various disease sites while interacting closely with dosimetrists, radiation oncology faculty, and radiation oncology residents.  The resident will have the opportunity to perform all tasks related to treatment planning, including block fabrication, image registration, contouring, planning (hand calculations, 3DCRT, IMRT, and VMAT), chart preparation, and physics plan and chart reviews.
 
SRS and SBRT Special Procedures (3 months)
This rotation is focused on SRS, SBRT, and advanced delivery techniques, including motion management methods such as respiratory gating.  The resident will learn the theory and equipment requirements of these advanced treatments while becoming proficient in the SRS and SBRT treatment planning process.  The resident will also gain experience on the TomoTherapy Hi Art and GammaKnife machines.
 
External Beam Machines (2 months)
Chief Mentor:  Cem Altunbas
This rotation focuses on quality management of external beam treatment machines.  The resident will learn the subtle yet critical skills for calibrating and characterizing a machine well.  The resident will gain practical skills for avoiding pitfalls when performing TG-51 and using a 3D tank for beam scanning.

Brachytherapy (3 months)
Chief Mentor:  Leah Schubert
The resident will become competent in brachytherapy physics coverage.  The resident will gain skills in brachytherapy treatment planning, treatment delivery, equipment commissioning and quality assurance.  The resident will be involved in all aspects of clinical brachytherapy cases, including HDR gynecological treatments, LDR eye plaque cases, and LDR prostate seed implants.
 
Imaging and Special Procedures (3 months)
Chief Mentor:  David Thomas
Through a special collaboration with the Department of Radiology, the resident will learn the principles of oncologic imaging while observing oncologic diagnostic imaging procedures and shadowing diagnostic physicists.  The resident will then focus on how images are used in our department by participating in image fusion and IGRT procedures.  The resident will also gain the skills for handling special physics procedures and patient situations including TBI, TSE, implanted electronic cardiac devices, pregnant patients, and metal prostheses.
 
Commissioning and Clinical Physics Practice I (3 months)
Chief Mentor:  Quentin Diot
The resident will apply knowledge gained from previous rotations to study the overall process of commissioning, as it provides the opportunity to combine knowledge of the equipment, operational procedures, and quality assurance already covered in previous rotations.  The resident will focus on treatment planning algorithms and linac commissioning.  The resident will also be co-assigned with a staff physicist on clinical coverage and troubleshooting, an especially valuable experience.

Commissioning and Clinical Physics Practice II (3 months)
Chief Mentor:  David Westerly
The resident will add to their knowledge of treatment planning algorithms and linac commissioning by focusing on treatment planning system commissioning.  The resident will continue to increase their experience in clinical coverage and troubleshooting during this last rotation.
Presentations with Integrated Q&A
At the end of each rotation, the resident will give a presentation to the physics staff on topics covering major areas of medical physics theory and principles.  Presentation topics are closely related to each rotation’s clinical objectives and also represent subjects within the major areas of study for board certification oral exams.  Additional time will then be spent during the presentation in which the resident will be asked questions related to the topics presented.  The main goals of this requirement are to hone the resident’s presentation skills, as well as provide a forum for oral questioning in order to prepare the resident for board examinations.
 
Presentations to the Department
Residents will give two educational presentations to the department during their time in the program.  The residents choose the topic they will present, but it should be of interest, not only to physicists, but to radiation oncologists, residents, and other department staff.  It takes unique skills to give an effective presentation to a broad range of staff within a hospital clinic.  Clinical and academic physicists commonly give such presentations, whether as a lecturer in a clinical training program, when training staff during the implementation of new technology, or when presenting their research to key stakeholders.  These presentations give the resident the opportunity to gain teaching and presentation skills for a broader audience outside of the medical physics field.

 

Annual Oral Exams
At the end of each year, the resident will complete a rigorous, board-style oral exam.  These exams are conducted to fully simulate the ABR board exam experience.  The resident’s performance is evaluated by all medical physics faculty using the ABR oral exam criteria.  These exams are especially valuable for preparing the resident for board certification.
Educational Lectures and Meetings
The department provides a wide range of lectures to enhance the resident’s technical and clinical knowledge.  Residents also attend department-wide meetings, in order to immerse the resident in the world of clinical physics as well as the workings of the clinic. Regular lecture and meetings include:
•    Clinical oncology lectures
•    Physics of radiation therapy lectures
•    Treatment planning lectures and workshops
•    Invited professor and guest presentations
•    Clinical quality rounds
•    Physics faculty/staff meetings
•    Radiation safety subcommittee meetings
•    Department staff meetings
Integrated Clinical Activities
The resident will be integrated into clinical activities under close supervision after demonstrating competency.  We strive for optimal balance of activities to ensure appropriate learning coupled with clinical experience.  Examples include:
•    Treatment planning
•    In vivo dosimetry
•    CT simulator quality assurance
•    Linac quality assurance
•    IMRT quality assurance (shared rotation with faculty)
•    HDR afterloader quality assurance & source exchanges
•    Radioactive source shipping and receiving
•    Radiation detector program
•    Quasi-independent clinical coverage and troubleshooting
 
Optional Clinical Development Project
While research is not a requirement of this program, there are numerous opportunities for working on clinical development projects.  We allow the resident to participate in such a project if they choose to do so and are in good standing with respect to program requirements.  One month is provided for the resident to focus on the project, under supervision of a faculty mentor.
 
Benefits

Our residents are provided with the same benefits as CU Faculty Fellows, including:

•    Salary: $50,000+ a year
•    12 vacation days plus 3 banked holidays per year
•    12 sick days per year
•    Duty hour leave
•    Funding to attend one national meeting
•    $500 educational funds
•    Medical and dental insurance
•    Disability and basic life insurance
•    Office space and supplies (including desktop and laptop computers)
•    Resident library with medical physics textbooks and references
•    Access to campus and hospital facilities, including the Health Sciences Library

More details may be found at the University of Colorado’s Employee Services site. For a greater breakdown of specific plans, please visit the employee services page and navigate to “Benefits & Wellness” -> “New Employee.”