Shaun Loewen, BSc (Hons), MD, PhD, FRCPC, DABR
The Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, in conjunction with the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, provides a 5 year, fully accredited, residency training program in Radiation Oncology. The program functions within a dynamic teaching environment in the Department of Oncology, as there are training programs offered in all the oncology disciplines as well as physics and translational medicine.
Residents are selected to the program through the Canadian Resident Matching Service. One PGY-1 resident is matched to the program each year through CaRMS. Transfer requests from other programs or institutions are considered on an individual basis. Visa applicants are considered on an individual basis.
All applicants must submit a formal application, university transcript, 3 letters of reference and a personal letter. The Program Director and Training Program Committee will review the applications of all individuals who are applying to the program. Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview. There will be an opportunity to tour the Tom Baker Cancer Centre on the interview day.
The overall goal of the program is to provide a training environment that ensures residents acquire the knowledge and skills to function as independent radiation oncologists. At the completion of training, a resident will have demonstrated competence in the CanMEDs domains as described in the Objectives of Training for Radiation Oncology.
The training program is structured to meet the requirements of training as set out by the Royal College. The first 18 months of training include rotations in general internal medicine as well as medicine subspecialties, general surgery and surgery subspecialties, emergency medicine, gynecologic oncology, pediatric oncology, medical oncology, palliative care, pathology and diagnostic radiology. Residents typically start the specific radiation oncology rotations mid way through the PGY-2 year. During the PGY-4 year, there is a 10 week clinical physics rotation as well as an 8 week medical oncology rotation. Residents may take up to 6 months during their training to do a dedicated research block. Residents are encouraged to pursue elective opportunities at other training centres during their PGY4 or 5 years. A one month community rotation is a mandatory training requirement, which can be done at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta or another recognized community cancer site in Canada.
The didactic physics course runs from September to April in the PGY-1 year. Didactic radiobiology teaching is done in a 3 month block in the spring of the PGY2 or 3 year. The academic ½ day runs once weekly from September through June. Resident responsibilities during ½ day increase with level of training. In addition to the radiation oncology specific ½ day, there is combined oncology teaching twice weekly covering topics common to all training programs (eg. research methods, molecular biology).
Multidisciplinary tumour conferences for all tumour sites are held weekly. Departmental rounds as well as QA rounds are conducted weekly. Residents are invited to monthly staff journal clubs.
Residents are encouraged to complete at least one clinical or basic science research project during their training. Research can be conducted on a collaborative basis with any other oncology specialty, or with clinical physics, or with a basic science investigator at the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute. Residents are funded to attend one or two North American meetings per year as well as the annual Northwest Radiobiology review course.
Over 3500 new patients are seen in outpatient consultation in Radiation Oncology annually. The majority of inpatient consults and admissions occur on the oncology wards, Units 57 and 47, at the Foothills Medical Centre.
The Department of Radiation Oncology at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre presently consists of 18 radiation oncologists. There are nine linear accelerators, one cobalt unit, one conventional simulator, two CT simulators, and an orthovoltage unit. We have capabilities for Sterotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), three dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) utilizing Varian Eclipse planning, as well as gynecologic and protate brachytherapy.
The Department has the latest technology and one of the best equipped facilities in the country. The catchment area and patient numbers ensure that residents will see the entire spectrum of tumours.
The Department actively participates in national and international cooperative clinical trials groups including RTOG, NCIC, COG and NSABP.