NYMC Faculty Publications

Predictors of Interest in Radiation Oncology: The Effect of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Other Diversity Measures

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Journal Title

Advances in Radiation Oncology

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Radiation Medicine

Second Department



PURPOSE: The presence of women and people underrepresented in medicine (URiM) continues to be lower in radiation oncology (RO) than within the United States population, medical school graduates, and oncology fellowship applicants. The objective of this study was to identify demographics of matriculating medical students who are inclined to consider pursuing a residency in RO and identify barriers to entry that students may perceive before medical school training. METHODS AND MATERIALS: A survey of incoming medical students at New York Medical College was distributed via e-mail and assessed demographic background information, interest in and awareness of oncologic subspecialties, and perceived barriers to RO. RESULTS: Students of the incoming class of 2026 had a complete response rate of 72% (155 complete responses and 8 incomplete responses of 214 class members). Two-thirds of participants had prior awareness of RO, and half have considered pursuing an oncologic subspecialty, but less than one-fourth have ever previously considered a career in RO. Students responded that they need more education, clinical exposure, and mentorship to increase their chance of choosing RO. Male participants had 3.4 times the odds of having an acquaintance in the community tell them about the specialty and also had significantly greater interest in using advanced technologies. There were no URiM participants who had personal relationships with an RO physician compared with 6 (4.5%) non-URiM participants. The average response to "What is the likelihood that you will pursue a career in RO?" showed no significant difference between genders. CONCLUSIONS: All races and ethnicities scored a similar likelihood of pursuing a career in RO, which differs greatly from the current RO workforce. Responses emphasized the importance of education, mentorship, and exposure to RO. This study demonstrates the need for support of female and URiM students during medical school.