By Rozina Behrooz
As part of an academic health center, a fundamental component of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is education. Our doctors are not only providing cutting-edge treatment, they are also training the next generation of radiation oncologists. This includes current students from universities across the country, and radiation oncology residents and fellows from UF Health Shands, the Moffitt Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic, to name a few. In addition, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute was the first to launch a radiation oncology fellowship dedicated to the subspecialty of pediatric proton therapy in 2011.
Here is an overview of the residency and fellowship program:
What is the difference between a resident and a fellow?
After completing four years of medical school, doctors may choose further specialization through post-graduate trainings as a resident and then as a fellow.
Resident: A resident is a doctor, training in a specific field. Residency length varies with different specialties. For radiation oncology, it is five years; one year in internal medicine and four years in radiation oncology. They are called residents because they basically live (or reside) in the hospital or medical facility in which they are training. However, in most facilities the resident is supervised by an attending physician (also known as a staff physician) who must approve all decision-making by the resident.
Fellow: A fellow is usually someone who has completed their residency but pursues additional training in a subspecialty of that field of training.
How does the UF Health Proton Therapy residency program work?
Each University of Florida (UF) resident that comes to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute from Gainesville is here on a six-month rotation; three months with pediatrics and three months with adults.
Most of the non-UF residents that come to the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute work with the pediatric program. They often come from Mayo Clinic, Moffitt and other nationally known programs. Sometimes, residents from other institutions will come to work with just the adult patients, but not often.
How does the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Fellowship Program Work?
We usually have two or three long-term fellows both in adult and pediatrics. They come from different locations for one year with an opportunity of renewing their contracts for another year if they wish. Dr. Matthew Hall, Dr. Natalie Logie and Dr. Ronica Nanda are the current long-term fellow physicians at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.
Short-term fellows are usually here for no more than one month and typically come from UF Medical Oncology, UF Palliative Care and Nemours Children’s Hospital. Also, several times during each year, we have physicians from the United Kingdom that get funded by their institutions to have a short-term fellowship here.
What about all those medical students who are always around?
We usually have dozens of medical students each year who work with different physicians as part of their official rotations. They use this time to help them decide if radiation oncology is the right specialty for them to pursue.