Bryan M. Rabatic, MD, PhD
Q: What would you say to a young physician considering radiation oncology?
I am often asked, "How did you choose your specialty?" Almost immediately, that question is followed by, "What advice do you have for someone considering radiation oncology?"
In choosing one's career, the most daunting obstacle has to be finding passion. Medicine is full of unique and diverse specialties to which medical students often have little exposure. Because of this, finding your niche can be tough. It requires some of the most important work you'll ever do early in your career.
To find your passion, it is so important to keep an open mind. For instance, if you're on your internal medicine rotation, interact with the various specialties you consult, ask questions, and go see what their days are like. Also, keep exploring your school's interest groups (ophthalmologists play with lasers!), attend an online journal club, or chart round. Often the information you need is a simple question away.
As for radiation oncology, you must love your patients. Patients are what brought me to the field. We see very sick patients at moments when they are fighting the toughest battle of their lives. Our treatments are protracted and you must want — not just be willing — to help them. If you have that drive, the rest will fall into place. For instance, head and neck patients suffer from the toxicity of their radiotherapy; empathy for their pain started my research interest in minimizing salivary gland toxicity.
For a young physician considering radiation oncology, know that your specialty must be your passion.
Bryan M. Rabatic, MD, PhD, ACR RFS Executive Committee Radiation Oncology
Chief Resident, Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Georgia