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A SWRO Series: Radiation Oncology and Medical Physics Training Across The Globe, 3rd Edition. "Radiation Oncology Training in Italy"

By Danielle Cerbon, MD.

Dr. Vanessa Pierini, who recently completed her Radiation Oncology training at The University of Milan, shares the details about radiation oncology training in Italy. She now works at The National Cancer Institute of Milan "Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori".

*Further details about the training structure and specialty admission are clarified as footnotes.

Is radiation oncology training combined with another specialty like med-onc or radiology?

  • Yes, it is. Above all, Med-Onc, then radiology and surgery.

What is the pathway to becoming a radiation oncology resident/trainee?

  • Six years of medical school, then radiation oncology residency*.

How long is the training?

  • 4 years.

How big are training programs generally (how many trainees)?

  • A single 4-year program.

Do you know how many radiation oncology training programs or training spots are available in your country?

  • There are 24 radiation oncology training programs.

What are the technologies available in your center? (LINAC, Cobalt, Proton, Carbon)

  • LINAC + Brachytherapy

Does your training offer the opportunity to train abroad/other institutions for technologies unavailable in your center?

  • Yes, it does. For example, during my training program, I went to Boston (MGH) to see proton therapy.

If so, are the expenses (budget) covered by your program?

  • Yes, with a partial budget.

What do you think are the most commonly used technologies for radiation in your country?


How many centers do you think offer brachytherapy in your country?

  • Less than 10 I think.

Is learning brachytherapy a requirement for your training?

  • Yes, it is.

Is performing research a requirement or part of your training?

  • Yes, it is.

Do you have paid time off (vacation and sick leave) offered by the program?

  • Yes, we have paid sick days.

If so, how many days?

  • 40 days

Is it mandatory?

  • Yes, it is.

Is the gender gap large, can you feel a difference in your day-to-day work life?

  • Yes, and I feel it especially in the way patients approach me.

Do you have parental leave?

  • Yes, I do.

If so, how long?

  • 12 months.

Is parental leave paid?

  • Yes, it is.

Would parental leave interfere with the length of your training?

  • No.

Do you get paternal leave?

  • No.

Do they offer access to childcare?

  • No, they do not.

Do they offer access to fertility preservation (egg harvesting)?

  • No, they do not.

If so, is it fully covered? How much do you have to pay?

  • N/A

What is the most common career path once you graduate? (Public vs private healthcare, academic vs community medicine)

  • Occupation in a public hospital as a medical doctor.

*Information from University of Milan Specialization schools:

Specialization is a post-graduate master's degree course that provides the knowledge and skills required in the exercise of particular professions and allows you to obtain qualification.

Specialization schools can last from 2 to 5 years of course and require the acquisition of a number of credits between 120 and 300. Candidates are selected through an annual competition based on qualifications and examination. The call for applications is normally issued by 28 February of each year by a Ministerial Decree, and the number of places available is determined according to art. 35, paragraph 2, of Legislative Decree no. 368 of 1999.

Eligible candidates are Medicine graduates who obtained their degree before the application deadline set out in the call for applications, provided that they pass the Medical Practitioner State Board Exam within the start date of the Postgraduate School program.


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