• oncology;
  • radiation;
  • survey;
  • trainee;
  • training;
  • workforce



This paper reports the key findings of the first Faculty of Radiation Oncology survey of trainees dealing with experiences and perceptions on work practices and choice of specialty.


The survey was conducted in mid 2012 using a 37-question instrument. This was distributed by email to 159 current trainees and advertised through the Radiation Oncology Trainees Committee and other channels. There were six email reminders. Respondents were reassured that their responses were anonymous.


The overall response rate was 82.8%. Gender was balanced among respondents with 67 (51.5%) being male and 63 (48.5%) being female. The most common age bracket was the 31 to 35 years range. There were similar proportions of trainee responders in each of the five years of training. A substantial number of trainees held other degrees besides medical degrees. The large majority were satisfied with radiation oncology as a career choice and with the Training Network within which they were training. Interest in oncology patients, lifestyle after training and work hours were given as the major reasons for choosing radiation oncology as a career. Nearly half of trainees were interested in undertaking some of their training in a part-time capacity and working part time as a radiation oncologist in the future.

Over 70% of trainees stated they were working 36–55 clinical hours per week with additional non-clinical tasks, after-hours work and on-call duties. Nearly half of all trainees reported having one or less hours of protected time per week. Nonetheless, 40% of respondents indicated they had enough time to pursue outside interests. Radiation treatment planning and maintaining currency in general medicine were considered the most difficult aspects of training in radiation oncology. Most respondents were keen on the concept of fostering a research mentor.

In terms of views on practice after completion of training, the majority were interested in pursuing a fellowship, and nearly all expressed an interest in maintaining an element of academic practice. The large majority of respondents preferred to work in an urban department as a component of their practice after training and nearly all wanted a component of public sector practice. There were only four per cent who preferred to work only within the private sector. Job availability was a concern for 94% of trainees, which far outweighed any other concerns.


Trainees in radiation oncology are generally satisfied with their choice of specialty and their training. Most trainees are interested in fellowship positions, links with academia and largely public sector work in the future. Job availability for the future is their major concern.