We are pleased that you are interested in the radiation oncology residency program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. We are committed to providing quality graduate medical education for tomorrow's radiation oncologists. VUMC offers a teaching facility with diverse patient populations, state-of-the art technology, cutting edge research, and outstanding faculty.


Residents, Fall 2017
Residents, Spring 2019


Clinical experience

Residents spend approximately 36 of their 48 months of training rotating through the various clinical services. Rotations change every 2 months. All rotations are completed at the main campus, including pediatrics. Generally, residents work one-on-one with an attending who specializes in a specific disease site. Residents remain under the guidance of attendings for their entire four years of training, with gradually increasing expectations and responsibilities. 

Residents gain a broad exposure to the entire spectrum of oncology patients and their treatment, including:

Intensity modulated RT (IMRT)
Volumetric arc therapy (VMAT)
Stereotactic body RT (SBRT) / Stereotactic ablative RT (SABR) 
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) / Stereotactic RT (SRT)
Image-guided RT (IGRT)
3D conformal RT (3D CRT)
4D CT and treatment planning
Deep inspiratory breath hold (DIBH)
Total body irradiation (TBI)
Total skin electron therapy (TSE) with rotisserie technique 
Electronic brachytherapy for breast 
Low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR) for prostate, sarcoma, ocular melanoma
High dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) for gynecologic malignancies 
Hydrogel spacer and fiducial placement for prostate
Unsealed sources 
Pediatric through geriatric aged patients 
Curative to palliative intents 

Clinical sites include:

Benign (tremor, AVM, keloid, etc) 
Gastrointestinal (GI)
Genitourinary (GU)
Head and neck 
Palliative inpatient service 
Proton therapy 

Residents cover home call for 1 week at a time. PGY-2 residents don't begin to take call until the Fall. During clinic days, the palliative inpatient service (with its own dedicated attending and NP +/- rotating resident) handles inpatient consults. The resident on call primarily helps to triage and answer questions during nights and weekends, which is uncommon. Attendings are also on call for one week at a time, so there is continuity and it is easy to know with whom to discuss concerns. 


Clinical didactics

Didactic coursework consists of classes in clinical radiation oncology, cancer and radiation biology, and medical physics. Residents attend daily didactics led by both residents, faculty, and special guest speakers; PGY-2 residents don't start to present didactics until the Fall. In addition, residents attend specialty-specific multidisciplinary tumor boards, quality assurance (chart rounds), morbidity & mortality, and clinical didactics. Special sessions include:

Guest lectures from other specialties (e.g. radiology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, medical oncology, etc);
Resident wellness sessions;
Career planning and financial advising;
Research seminars (e.g. how to write NIH grants);
Thought leaders in the field of radiation oncology (e.g. Silvia Formenti, MD, Drew Moghanaki, MD, David Raben, MD, Vanderbilt alumni, etc).

See information for current residents for up-to-date details on our didactics schedule. 



We have structured weekly medical physics didactics with lectures, exercises, and exams. This course is repeated by all residents annually until passing the boards. As of 2018-2019, we have a new curriculum designed specifically for us by our physics faculty led by Dr Price, which has been very well-received. Content is tailored to a level of understanding appropriate for physicians and for board certification. In the Spring, our faculty lead additional study sessions for the seniors to assist with board exam preparation, including reviewing practice questions and a concise boards review course.


Cancer and radiation biology

We have structured weekly cancer and radiation biology didactics with interactive sessions led by our faculty who are also actively involved in research. This course is repeated annually by all residents until passing the boards. The course is primarily built around the standard radiobiology textbook and question sets. The format and content is fluid each year, so that residents of all learning styles can learn (e.g. powerpoint, chalk talks, question and answer). 


Research / Elective

Resident research may be undertaken in the following disciplines: clinical sciences, physical sciences, and/or biological sciences. Residents are expected to participate in research and publish at least 1 peer-reviewed paper during the course of their residency. Many of our residents apply for The Holman Pathway which is designed for the exceptional trainee who has both strong clinical abilities and a background in research. If accepted for this program residents spend 18 months performing research; all residents are guaranteed 12 months of dedicated research time (part of this time can also be used for other electives). Residents are encouraged to attend and present their work at national scientific conferences. Our residents routinely are invited to give oral presentations at these conferences and many garner prestigious awards. For more details, please see the Research section. 

Dr Attia and our department are extremely supportive of each of our career goals. Having 12 months of consecutive research / elective time available facilitates completion of additional degrees (e.g. MBA, MS in Clinical Investigation, MA in Bioethics, MPH). Electives can also be used to spend time in Radiology, Pathology, Medical Oncology, or surgical subspecialties. Electives can also be used for the optional rotation in Inpatient / Palliative Radiation with Dr Kohutek, or a proton therapy away rotation. 


Oral board prep

Every Spring, we invite new alumni to join our current residents in practicing oral boards style practice sessions ("mock orals") led by our current faculty and prominent alumni. This provides invaluable test preparation as well as networking opportunities. 

Group photo from mock oral boards


Program Director: Albert Attia, MD

Assistant Program Directors: Diandra Ayala-Peacock, MD, and Zachary Kohutek, MD, PhD

Program Coordinator: Betsy Amell


Application requirements

Individuals applying for residency in radiation oncology must hold a medical degree from an accredited institution. We are a 4-year training program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). All applicants must have completed a minimum of an internship, at an accredited institution, prior to beginning their PGY-2 year with us. Your program director will be contacted and written documentation of successful completion of the PGY-1 year is required. If you hold a foreign medical degree, a valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) is also required. If you graduated from a medical school outside of the US, Canada or Puerto Rico, a copy of a valid ECFMG Certificate is required. The Administrative Director for GME at Vanderbilt is the designated Training Program Liaison for ECFMG Graduates. If you are a foreign national, a copy of a valid J-1 or H-B visa is required.

In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA 29 Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression consistent with the University's nondiscrimination policy.

Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity institution offering excellent benefits for all employees. A partial listing of benefits can be viewed on our website. On acceptance to our program all residents must successfully pass reference and background screenings.

We accept applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). We participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).


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Alumni in Academia

Roberto Diaz, MD, PhD, Member, Moffitt Cancer Center

Jerry J. Jaboin, MD, PhD, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Department of Radiation Medicine, OHSU

Ellen Kim, MD, MPH, Clinical Informatics Fellow at Partners Healthcare / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 

​Nathan Kim, MD, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Austin Kirschner, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center 

Christien Kluwe, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center 

Ken J. Niermann, MD, MSCI, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center 

Chirayu Patel, MD, MS, Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital 

Christopher Willey, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UAB School of Medicine

Fen Xia, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, UAMS

Eddy Yang, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Translational Science, ROAR Southeast Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair, UAB School of Medicine

David S. Yu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine

Fun activities

  • Spontaneous lunches on and off campus, in the sun and in the shade 
  • Spontaneous happy hours 
  • Trivia nights 
  • Birthday lunches / dinners for residents and their significant other / families 
  • Tour of the parthenon by Dr Niermann with the department staff 
  • Yoga 
  • Baby showers in the department
  • Resident and family BBQ at resident's house 
  • Sounds baseball games
  • Annual post-in training exam lunch with all residents 
  • Annual resident dinner welcoming new residents 
  • Annual resident holiday dinner with white elephant gift exchange 
  • Annual department / VICC holiday party 
  • Annual graduation dinner / awards for graduating seniors 
  • Annual Halloween costume competition with the whole department 
  • Annual ASTRO party with alumni