The residents of the radiation oncology program recently were awarded the 2018 David C. Leach award from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The award is given to teams or individuals who make significant contributions to resident education and physician well-being.

Stella Yoo, MD, radiation oncology resident, said the team of residents at the Keck School of Medicine of USC was given the award for its work in establishing new procedures for cancer patients at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center that ensure that patients will be seen by the same resident when they return for follow-up care.

Such practices have been in place for many residency programs, starting with primary care, for several years. These so-called residency continuity clinics have since expanded to other specialties, but have not been widely adopted by radiation oncology.

Yoo and the other residents in radiation oncology believed that establishing a continuity clinic could help achieve several important goals. They hoped that it would improve their education by helping them better evaluate the short- and long-term success of the tumor control and toxicity management plans that they develop for their patients.

They believed that it would also lead to better outcomes for their patients and improve their patients’ satisfaction with their treatment.

Stella Yoo attended the conference in Orlando in March. (Photo/Courtesy Stella Yoo)

After setting up the new clinic, Yoo and the other residents published an article last year on their new clinic in the Journal of Radiation Oncology. One of the important findings was that the patient compliance rate with follow-up visits increased 9.4 percent after establishing the continuity clinic.

In surveys, residents evaluated the program favorably, saying they believed it helped them better manage patient care and evaluate their outcomes and, because they had personal relationships with their patients, they were more enthusiastic about follow-up visits.

Yoo added that the continuity clinic has become one of the aspects of the program that is highlighted when the program recruits new residents to the Keck School for radiation oncology.

“We want them to know this is unique to USC,” she said.

The attending physicians in radiation oncology gave the continuity clinic high marks, noting that it also improved workflow and documentation of cases since the residents were already familiar with each patient.

“We were very excited to have received this award from ACGME,” Yoo said. “All the residents worked on this together, but I was honored to go to Orlando as the representative of our team to receive this award.”

— Hope Hamashige