Radiation oncology resident education in palliative care

Pericles J. Ioannides, Randy L. Wei


Palliative and supportive care education for radiation oncologists in training is essential to deliver comprehensive care to patients. Surveys on palliative care education among radiation oncology program directors and residents demonstrate a disparity in formal teaching and didactics. Integration of formal didactics, communications skills programs, and teaching modules are being piloted at academic centers. A dedicated palliative radiation oncology service has been implemented and the experience evaluated. Future directions to improve resident education in palliative care include improving access and time dedicated to formal didactics, online and interactive modules, rotation in a palliative care service, emphasis on board examinations, and consideration of an advanced palliative care fellowship for radiation oncologists. This is the first review of the available literature reviewing formal palliative education in radiation oncology training programs in the United States.