Initial Certification for Radiation Oncology

Holman Research Pathway

Last verified on December 18, 2023
The Holman Pathway is designed for the exceptional trainee who has both strong clinical abilities and a background in research. Entry implies a commitment to basic science or clinical research. (Trainees who leave the research pathway must complete the standard five years of training, including four years of radiation oncology training.)


PGY-1: Clinical Patient Responsibilities
A minimum of nine months of direct patient care is required in an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited training program in internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery or surgical subspecialties, obstetrics-gynecology, neurology, family practice, emergency medicine, or any combination of these programs.
If there is an elective in radiation oncology, it must be in a department with an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited residency program and cannot be longer than two months. No more than a total of three months may be spent in radiation oncology and/or pathology.
Radiation Oncology residency training years 1-4 Clinical Training in Radiation Oncology
  • Twenty-seven months of full-time clinical radiation oncology training, which can include three months in PGY-1, are required
  • Holman Pathway residents must meet the same minimum requirements for special procedures (including interstitial brachytherapy, intracavitary brachytherapy, and unsealed sources) and the same pediatric caseload as traditional residents, outlined in the program guidelines of the RRC in radiation oncology.
  • For adult external beam cases, Holman Pathway residents must simulate a minimum of 350 cases over their 27 months of clinical training instead of 450 cases during the 36 months of standard clinical training.
Research Training/Experience
  • Twenty-one months (18 in extenuating circumstances) of dedicated research time, with 20 percent of this time devoted to clinical training.
  • A minimum of 18 months of research is required to successfully complete the Holman Pathway.
  • The approved candidate can also take three months of research during his or her PGY-1 year, for a total of 24 months.
The program director must oversee the trainee’s clinical performance. Annually, the program director must attest that the trainee in the pathway has maintained satisfactory progress in clinical performance. In addition, the research mentor (who may be an individual other than the program director) must submit an annual evaluation of the trainee’s research progress.
When to Apply
  • The ABR encourages mentors, program directors and candidates to exercise flexibility in scheduling to permit the optimal research experience, and to improve efforts to maintain a trainee’s research-oriented career. Therefore, candidates for the Holman Pathway may apply after completion of six full months of the first year of radiation oncology residency or at any time during the second year. Applications submitted during the third year will not be considered.
  • The research period may be completed at any time during the training period, including the fourth year of residency.
  • Regardless of the timing of application, research, or clinical commitments, all program requirements must be attained. Applications will be reviewed three times a year by the ABR. Therefore, completed applications MUST be submitted via JotForm by March 15, July 15, or November 15 of the application year.

Research Quality Assessment

The trainee must show evidence of commitment to a research career. The following are criteria that might be used to evaluate this commitment:
  • Record of participation in basic or clinical research
  • Record of publications and patents
  • Attainment of a graduate degree, such as a PhD or MPH
  • Record of presentations at scientific meetings
  • Honors and awards
Research Mentor
The research mentor should be a successful investigator with an active research program and peer-reviewed research funding. The mentor must accept responsibility for supervision of the research experience. The research mentor may be the candidate’s program director or another qualified individual in the department.
Environment for Research Training
A research environment suitable for a productive research experience must exist. This should include adequate space, equipment, and funding for the research, and a critical mass of productive researchers identifiable by grants, publications in peer-reviewed journals, the quality of those journals, and by the researchers’ stature in their disciplines. The department chair and dean must attest to the departmental and institutional commitment to maintain and adequately support this environment.
All research trainees should have well-defined goals, including a detailed description of a research program for educational experiences with coursework for research careers, possibly leading to graduate degrees.

Application Requirements

  • Formal proposal from the trainee, describing goals and content of the research program. The research plan should not exceed five pages.
  • Supporting letter from the department chair, indicating trainee’s ability to achieve clinical competence in the abbreviated time and guaranteeing availability of and support for research time.
  • Signed commitment from the research mentor to guide and supervise the research trainee. If the research mentor is a person other than the program director, the program director must include a lettersupporting the research trainee.
  • A letter from the dean of the medical school.
  • The trainee’s USMLE Part 1, 2, and 3 scores.
Review of application
Each application will be evaluated independently by a minimum of three reviewers. The final recommendation will be communicated to the applicant approximately eight weeks after the submission deadline.
The application form is available here.


Approved candidates follow the same exam schedule as candidates for the standard RO certification pathway.

Recognition of Successful Candidates

Successful candidates are awarded a continuous ABR specialty certificate in radiation oncology.

Board Eligibility

See Board Eligibility Policy for details.


Click here for fee schedule for Radiation Oncology Certification  

Holman Research Pathway Graduates

The ABR recognizes those who have successfully completed the Holman Research Pathway, thereby demonstrating their clinical skills and commitment to basic and/or clinical research. To view a list of the Holman Research Pathway Graduates, click here.
Please note that a listing on this page is not to be used as a means of verifying certification, as completion of the pathway is only one component of the certification process. Certification status may be verified at