- How much research time are provided to residents?
Residents are given a 6-to-12-month continuous block to pursue research projects under the direction of a faculty supervisor during the PGY-4 year. Additional time may be provided depending on the progress of the research and the resident’s career aspirations. It is expected that residents prepare at least 1 original manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
- How are clinical rotations organized?
Residents cover 1 (typical) or 2 attendings on a rotation. For double-covered services, that generally means working with 2 research intensive faculty with part-time clinical services. Care is taken to ensure that scheduling conflicts are avoided. Elective rotations in dosimetry, radiology, pathology, medical oncology, and surgical oncology are available.
- At what sites do residents rotate?
Residents spend the bulk of their clinical time working at the main site, UCI-Chao Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UCI Medical Center in Orange. They also rotate at the Long Beach VA Hospital (approximately a 25-minute drive) as well as at the California Proton Center affiliated with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Temporary housing is arranged by the program for residents rotating at the Proton Center.
- Is there any cross coverage?
No, the program has a strict “no cross coverage” policy. When a resident is out for vacation or medical leave, other residents do not need to cover that service. All faculty are expected to function independently, and most in fact are not covered by a resident for the majority of the academic year.
- How is the call scheduled arranged?
When residents rotate at UCI, they take 1-week long blocks of outpatient call from Monday to Sunday. Call is divided evenly among the residents working at UCI and is limited to every 4 weeks (i.e., no more frequently). The Chief Resident organizes call schedules and generally arranges it such that residents are on call with their service attending.
- How accessible are the faculty?
Extremely. The program prides itself on fostering a welcoming, collegial environment. Each of the faculty maintains an open-door policy. Faculty participation in educational activities is consistently high, and 100% attendance is maintained for such conferences as journal club, resident case presentations, chart rounds, and quality improvement series. Additionally, opportunities for residents and faculty to socialize present themselves regularly throughout the year. Several of the faculty have hosted events for residents at their homes.
- Are there formal clinical didactics?
Yes, there is an organized curriculum of formal didactics—led by the faculty. Lectures are divided into approximately 2-month clinical blocks (by disease site) that review the entirety of what is covered by the ABR board examinations. The curriculum is 24 months long, so residents typically hear topics twice. In addition, the first month of didactics covers general topics meant to help the transitioning resident hit the ground running. Morning didactic sessions occur on Mondays and Thursdays; and another hour is dedicated to case presentations on Wednesday morning.
- Is the Socratic Teaching method used (i.e., does pimping of residents) occur?
A variety of teaching styles are implemented at UCI. Different faculty have different styles. If the Socratic Method is used, it is always good-natured and benign, with the intention of challenging residents to “think on their feet” and creating a more pro-active educational environment. The faculty are all friendly folks, but they are also serious about their educational responsibilities. They genuinely enjoy educating residents and strive to help residents become more confident in their knowledge base and their professional obligations. Teaching for the purpose of degrading or embarrassing residents is never tolerated.
- What other assessment methods are utilized to gauge resident performance?
An end-of-year mock orals symposium takes place over a half-day at UCI in December during which residents are tested in a manner consistent with their year of training. Additionally, the American College of Radiology’s in-service examinations and the standardized Raphex/Rabex tests are used to evaluate knowledge base. To assess clinical competency and professionalism, the program uses 360-degree evaluations to obtain feedback from staff to help residents improve. End of rotation evaluations are also conducted; and 1-on-1 feedback is regularly provided. At the conclusion of each 2-month didactic block (disease-based), the faculty moderator will typically organize a mock oral boards session for all residents.
- Are residents taught about the business of health care?
Yes, didactics in such topics as health care economics, finance, and reform are integrated into our highly popular Chair’s Seminar. Included in this series are 3 lectures exclusively devoted exclusively to the Affordable Care Act. Residents are also provided instruction in contracts, negotiations, and billing.
- How are radiation biology and physics lectures organized?
A robust physics and radiation biology curriculum is in place. Each are divided into continuous 6-month blocks, with 2 hours each week (typically on Tuesday afternoons). Our UCI faculty physicists and radiation biologists organize and teach the courses. The syllabi are designed to ensure that all of the topics on the ABR board examinations are covered comprehensively.
- What is the vacation policy?
The Radiation Oncology Program ascribes to the University of California vacation policy. Residents have four weeks (20 business days) of vacation each year. Requests for vacation should be made one month in advance.
- What are the benefits and salary?
- The benefits and salary are in accordance with the University of California policies. Please refer to the UCI GME website on benefits and salary.
- What is the makeup of the patient population?
UCI Medical Center sits in the middle of Orange County, one of the most diverse regions in the entire nation. Patients from all backgrounds and walks of life visit the Department of Radiation Oncology daily. It is not uncommon to hear multiple different languages in the waiting areas. Fortunately, the translational services at UCI are outstanding and make everybody feel welcome. As the former County Hospital, UCI Medical Center also takes particular pride in serving the indigent communities, and opportunities for residents to engage in outreach and education are abundant. With the opening of the second hospital in Irvine-Newport, UCI Radiation Oncology looks to expand clinical services to an entirely new region of coastal Orange County.
- What makes the residency program unique?
As a relatively small-sized residency, residents at UCI are afforded considerably more 1-on-1 attention than at other programs. This creates an environment where collegiality and camaraderie can be nurtured. Residents are thus treated as integral parts of the workplace and are respected for their ability to contribute to the academic culture. They are encouraged to take charge of their learning and to devise a customized approach to training. Our faculty are also enthusiastic about teaching and strive to foster a residency that limits non-educational activity while promoting intellectual inquiry.
- What changes are in the works for UCI Radiation Oncology?
The Department has undergone a radical change since 2018. Most faculty members are new and have completely “bought in” to making UCI Radiation Oncology a top program. The growth that has occurred over the last 5 years with respect to faculty recruitment, staff hiring, and patient volume has been unprecedented. With continued expansion and increasing investment, the Department is fully expected to grow further in the upcoming years. This will undoubtedly create more exciting opportunities for residents to learn and to develop their careers.
- Where do most residents live?
Most residents live within an easy drive of the UCI medical center, which is located at the intersection of the cities of Orange, Anaheim, and Irvine. For those not wanting to drive, a multitude of apartments and condominium complexes are situated within walking distance to the hospital. Some residents have chosen to live in these over the years.
- What is the policy for maternity/paternity leave?
We follow the University of California parental leave policy, in accordance with FMLA. Residents still must meet the minimum requirement of 36 months of clinical rotations.
- Do residents socialize together outside of work?
By all accounts, the residents at UCI are a tight-knit group. They work hard, but also play hard—and lifelong friendships are formed as a result. Outside of work, they enjoy exploring the diverse array of restaurants in Orange County, hiking some of the best trails in Southern California, and attending sporting events together.
- How normal (or friendly) are the faculty?
Nearly all of the UCI faculty were recruited over the last 5 years and were selected for their positive personalities as much as for their clinical and/or academic aptitude. All are Southern California transplants, and consequently, they are a close group who pride themselves on being “normal” people outside of work who enjoy living life as much as anybody. The result is an environment which we feel is second to none in terms of camaraderie, collegiality, and belonging.
- Is work-life balance valued?
Absolutely. We recognize that work-life balance starts with creating a culture where people are encouraged to be themselves and where individuals are respected for what makes them unique. Whether it’s spending time with family or nurturing personal interests, life outside of the workplace is to be celebrated. While the work being done at UCI is exceptionally important, we also ascribe to the age-old adage that “you are your own most important patient.” As a result, an incredible amount of emphasis is placed on resident wellness. We also recognize that faculty need to lead by example. And fortunately, our physicians are not just brilliant clinicians and scientists, but more importantly, amazing people with very cool lives outside of work. Just to share a few tidbits: Dr. Simon is an amazing surfer; Dr. Seyedin loves watching movies on his Oculus headset; Dr. Kuo is a snob of the arts, especially the ballet; Dr. Harris makes a mean cocktail; Dr. Healy is a Disney aficionado; and Dr. Chen has a passion for animal (beagle) rescue!
- What is there to do in Orange County?
Despite its well-earned reputation as one of the most family-friendly and “safest” communities in the nation, Orange County is a lively and fun place to live. There is literally something for everybody. Whether it’s dining out, spending time out in nature, enjoying the arts, listening to live music, exploring art galleries, or taking in a sporting event, Orange County is abounded with cultural and entertainment options. For those interested in day trips, such iconic sites as Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Big Bear Lake, Santa Barbara, and the wine country of Temecula are just a short drive away. In the winters, Orange County might be one of the few places on Earth where it is possible to ski and surf on the very same day!
- Disneyland or California Adventure?
With both located approximately 3 miles from UCI Medical Center in Orange, this is a perpetual source of debate among faculty and staff. Depending on who you ask, the answer might vary—but both, in our eyes, are worthy of the price of admission. Just don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!
- When will the Angels win the MLB World Series again?
We acknowledge it’s been a long time since the Angels won it all (2002), but Angel Stadium, a short walk away from UCI Medical Center, is consistently rated as one of the nicest places to see a baseball game. And if baseball isn’t your thing, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the National Hockey League never fail to sport a hard-hitting, scrappy team on the ice at the “Duck Pond” next door. By car, the Lakers, Dodgers, Rams, and Chargers are all about an hour drive away. Of note, UCI is also proud sponsor of the 2020 Super Bowl Champions, Los Angeles Rams. Each summer, the Rams hold their training camp on the UCI campus for the public to see.
- Do all the residents and faculty surf?
While most of the faculty and residents are outdoorsy types who enjoy being out in nature, this is definitely not a prerequisite for joining the residency. For those water-sport enthusiasts, however, Orange County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world. Whether it’s surfing or just simply putting your toes in the sand, the beaches here create the” Endless Summer” vibe that helps make living here so exceptionally unique. Just ask us which ones are our favorites!
- Does it ever rain in Orange County?
Given our location between Los Angeles and San Diego, the climate is warm and sunny year-round. Unfortunately, Southern California is amidst an unprecedented drought. While the rain might appear a few times a year, it is certainly hoped that this ramps up in volume and frequency.
- What is the easiest way to travel to UCI?
The UCI medical center is located in Orange, approximately 10 miles from the Orange County-John Wayne International Airport. Other airports in the vicinity include Los Angeles International (LAX), Long Beach International (LGB), and Ontario International (ONT) Airports. The Anaheim train station is also located within walking distance of the UCI medical center and provides service up and down the west coast. A train ride to Los Angeles (45 minutes) or San Diego (2 hours) is a great way to enjoy the scenic Southern California coast.
- I am visiting “the OC” for the first time. What should I do?
Gosh, this is a tough one. And is totally dependent on one’s interests. Disney aside, popular sights for tourists include Laguna Beach (bohemian and artsy), Newport Beach (bougee and upscale), San Clemente (laidback and sleepy), and Crystal Cove (amazing hikes and views of the Pacific Ocean). The Anaheim Packing District also is a fun place to explore a variety of different food venues in a hip, converted old warehouse. Anaheim is also home to dozens of breweries of all types (Golden Road, Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, etc.). The Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Costa Mesa) and the Pageant of the Masters (Laguna Beach) offer a variety of arts options. Lastly, for history lovers, Yorba Linda is home to the official Richard (“I am not a crook”) Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, which offers a fascinating portrayal of the 39th President of the United States.
- Are there additional support resources for mothers?
Yes, many additional resources are available. Please refer to our GME website: https://www.meded.uci.edu/gme/for-house-staff.asp
- What is the boards pass rate look like?
Since 2018, the boards pass rate has been a perfect 100%. All residents have passed the boards on the first attempt— this includes clinical (written and oral), biology, and physics. The program goes to great lengths to ensure that residents are prepared and confident to pursue board certification in radiation oncology.
- How will the new Irvine/Newport hospital effect trainees?
It is expected that fantastic new learning opportunities will be provided due to the increased volume of patients expected. In addition, the new hospital will feature “the latest and greatest” technologies which will expose trainees to newer techniques of treatment. Further, the location of the site on the undergraduate campus will allow for more seamless interaction between residents who are interested in basic, translational, and/or health services research with award-winning investigators currently residing at UCI. Lastly, the proximity to the UCI Research Park, home to a large number of industry leading businesses which includes entrepreneurs and startups as well as industry giants, and to other centers of innovation will create more opportunities for collaboration.
- Where do residents go after they graduate?
Residents have entered a variety of different practice settings after training. Some have chosen careers in academic medicine; others have entered community-based or private practice. The program is supportive of residents regardless of career ambitions. Our faculty routinely place phone calls to potential employers to advocate for residents who are seeking specific jobs. Nearly all continue to stay in touch with UCI.
- What qualities are sought in potential residents?
UCI Radiation Oncology prides itself on collegiality, camaraderie, and a culture of teamwork. While knowledge can be imparted and clinical skills taught, emotional intelligence represents a totally different set of attributes ranging from self-awareness to empathy and respect for others. Simply stated, we are looking for nice, well-balanced people who can positively contribute to making our residency a better place for everybody!