The American Society for Radiation Oncology 2017 Radiation Oncologist Workforce Study

Claire Y. Fung, Erli Chen, Neha Vapiwala, Surjeet Pohar, Daniel Trifiletti, Minh Tam Truong, George Uschold, Jessica Schuster, Akshar Patel, Ashesh Jani, Pranshu Mohindra, Tim Sanders, Liz Gardner, Anna Arnone, Trevor Royce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study is to report the American Society for Radiation Oncology 2017 radiation oncologist (RO) workforce survey results; identify demographic, technology utilization, and employment trends; and assess the profession's ability to meet patients’ needs, offer job satisfaction, and attract high-caliber trainees. Methods: In spring 2017, the American Society for Radiation Oncology distributed an online survey to 3856 US RO members. The questionnaire was patterned after the 2012 workforce survey for trend analysis. The 31% response rate yielded 1174 individual responses (726 practices) for analysis. Results: ROs’ mean age was 50.9 years. Compared to 2012, female representation (28.9%) increased and white representation (69.8%) dropped. The proportion in rural practice (12.6%) decreased, whereas the number of suburban ROs (40.6%) increased and urban ROs (46.8%) remained high. Most ROs worked full-time, averaging 51.4 h/wk. Stereotactic body radiation therapy, cone beam computed tomography, and magnetic resonance/positron emission tomography-computed tomography fusion utilization increased, whereas low-dose-rate brachytherapy decreased by >15 percentage points. Hypofractionation utilization was 95.3% and was highest in academic/university systems and lowest in private solo practices (P <.001). More respondents were concerned about an RO oversupply rather than shortage. ROs reported 250 consults (median) and 20 on-treatment patients (median) in 2016 and greater time allocation to electronic health record management compared with 3 years earlier. Approximately 15% of ROs reported job vacancies, which were more prevalent in urban practices and academic/university systems. ROs were employed by academic/university systems, private practices, and nonacademic hospitals in a respective ratio of 2:2:1. Comparison with 2012 survey findings showed a shift from private practice toward academic/university systems and nonacademic hospitals. Compensation was predominantly productivity-based at private practices and a fixed salary or a base salary at academic/university systems and nonacademic hospitals. Practice merger/buyout was the lead reason for ROs to change employers. Conclusions: Since 2012, race and gender gaps narrowed, but geographic disparities persisted, with ROs gravitating toward resource-rich suburban and urban locations over rural practices. The workforce has shifted from predominantly private practice to more equal balance with academic/university systems. These findings reflect the current US RO landscape and serve to underscore the need for collective action to ensure equitable RO care for all patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-556
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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