Transitioning Roles from Residency to Attending Physician in Radiation Oncology

Jenna M. Kahn, Deborah DiazGranados, Emma C. Fields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Moving from the role of resident into that of a young attending is one of the most anticipated transitions in a medical trainee’s career path. Radiation oncology residency training is typically apprentice-style focused in the outpatient setting, which carries additional unique challenges. Twenty-seven junior attendings at academic institutions within their first 5 years of practice were sent an online open-ended questionnaire in 2018 regarding aspects of their practice using a snowball sampling method. Responses were collected, and a thematic analysis was conducted in which two independent reviewers coded the responses. Nineteen junior attendings (70%) from 18 institutions completed the questionnaire. General themes included the importance of cultivating relationships for peer support and to be professional and polite as confidence was gained to enable them to be seen as an attending. All respondents felt that bringing an open mind, balance, and adaptability was crucial in their transition. Respondents stayed up to date on literature and practices by subscribing to journals, courses, and participation in resident education. Forty-two percent of young attendings were matched with a mentor at their new institution through a formal mentor-mentee relationship. Respondents wished that they had more autonomy during residency to prepare for independent practice. Transitioning from residency to a junior attending provides unique stressors and challenges. Allowing for residents to have more autonomy during their training, such as a senior resident clinic, may help improve this transition by providing an opportunity for independent decision-making with guidance as appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1185
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Radiation oncology residency training
  • Residency education
  • Transition to attending

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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