An important focus of the program is resident education. One of the most important aspects of the educational program is the Departmental Morning Conference at which the residents prepare and present selected cases to the attending staff. The Monday Conference is run by the chairman, Dr. Weichselbaum, and the attending physician who treats the specific disease site being presented. Following an overview of the workup and diagnosis, the patient's management is discussed. The appropriate radiotherapeutic, chemotherapeutic, and surgical literature is then critically reviewed. Lastly, the patient’s radiation treatment plan is reviewed. The broad nature of the conference exemplifies the program's goal to train residents as "oncologists first and radiotherapists second."
The Tuesday Conference is run by residents or faculty. Each session focuses on a particular disease sub-site. Additionally, invited lecturers from other departments speak to the residents to supplement their education. The residents also participate in boards-review sessions focused on the major sub-sites to prepare for the oral boards, treatment planning seminars, and mock oral boards. The didactic schedule is organized around "disease months" ensuring coverage of all major tumor sites during the academic year.
Chart Rounds are held weekly to review the management of all patients beginning a treatment course. Residents present the patient's history summarizing the planned therapy at these conferences. Additionally, Journal Club is held over dinner to discuss recent seminal articles approximately once per quarter. A Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conference is held quarterly. During this weekly conference, Residents and Attendings discuss cases that resulted in toxicity.
In addition to clinical seminars, residents attend weekly physics lectures and monthly radiation biology seminars given by faculty in the department. These lectures are designed to teach fundamental topics to prepare residents to pass their Radbio/Physics boards after their PGY-4 year. Residents also participate in dosimetry workshops to learn the nuances of radiation treatment planning in a simulated environment.
Departmental research seminars are presented monthly by the attending staff, physicists, and radiobiologists. Topics range from review of issues in biology to presentations of a faculty member's current research. This seminar series fosters interaction and cooperation between the clinical and basic science faculty. The Department arranges periodic visits from noted Radiation Oncologists, Physicists and Biologists from outside the University of Chicago. All visitors meet with the residents and present seminars to the department as a whole.
Twice per year the chief residents coordinate a visiting professor. The visiting professor attends case conference and helps to guide the discussion, meets with the residents for a teaching session, joins the residents for lunch to discuss career goals and plans, and then gives a departmental presentation.