Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship FAQs

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The educational goals of our program are very well balanced with an emphasis on both surgical and clinical education. We receive excellent exposure to management of chemotherapy. We have protected didactic time, Journal Clubs, and play a central role in our weekly multidisciplinary Tumor Board. Our TB is very much conducted with the intent to have us learn the material and prepare for boards and career. There is no animosity or grilling at these events. Dedicated weekly didactic time is very well protected and topics are updated to reflect how fellows learn best and what topics are high-yield.

We also participate in several off-service rotations including: palliative care, radiation oncology, and Urologic Oncology/Plastics. The values of this program are to train academic gynecologic oncologists who are dedicated clinically and surgically to management of women with gynecologic cancer.

Fellows are evaluated in a number of ways including immediate feedback in the OR and in clinic. Our attendings are very good at giving in the moment constructive feedback, during clinic, after an OR case, after rounds or staffing calls - as well as through use of MyTipReport. There is formal feedback at the end of each rotation and twice yearly during semi-annual reviews, where we evaluate our own progress and the PD and assistant PD collate the info from all the attendings about our progress. We also review our own Individual Learning Plans and goals at those meetings.

For instance, based on fellow feedback, the surgical ICU rotation was removed from the schedule. There were lectures that we felt we needed and these were added. Lecture structure changed based on feedback about what worked. We hold informal meetings with the PD and assistant PD every month or every other month to check in about the fellowship structure, and based on those, changes are made to improve workflow, maximize education and improve quality of life. Communication between fellows and our program leadership is continuous and we are well-supported in requested changes. 

We have formal weekly one-hour didactics focused for Gynecologic Oncology fellows every Wednesday morning. We have Tumor Board every Thursday. We also have department-level Grand Rounds and M&M conferences on Thursday mornings. There are regular journal clubs, six per year. We complete the NIH course on Clinical Research in our research year.

Every one of the faculty are interested in mentorship and dedicated to teaching and supporting the fellows.  The Program Director and assistant PD are also strong mentors and advocates for all the fellows.  Formally, fellows will have a mentor for their thesis work as well as their QI project. 

Fellows attend SGO annual and winter meetings, NRG, regional gynecology oncology meetings, and meetings tailored more to their individual research/career interests. There is an annual spending allowance for conferences, books, etc.

Within our division, there is a past president of SGO, past Gyn Oncology Board President, past AGOS President, an SGO Executive Board member, the current Chair of the SGO Program Director’s Network, as well as people serving on committees for NRG and the SGO, among others.

We mainly train at UW Health University Hospital. There are occasional cases at Meriter or St. Mary’s Hospitals, which are mostly cesarean hysterectomies both planned and unplanned amounting to about one case every one to two months at those other sites. Both of those alternate sites have UW Ob-Gyn residents rotating at them.

The two clinical fellows split clinical responsibilities and on average, alternate weeks on call. The fellow on-call covers the half-day chemotherapy clinics on Tuesday and Friday morning. The on-call fellow also runs the inpatient service with our attendings, advanced practice providers, and resident team, and participates in OR cases. The rest of the week, the on-call fellow is in cases. The clinical fellow who is not on-call mainly participates in OR cases. Approximately one week per month, each fellow spends one week in clinics with our attendings.

Autonomy in the OR is gradual based on the fellow’s experience. I’ve been able to walk residents through portions of the case which is great for my learning to be a better teacher. For other more complicated portions of the case, I feel I get great mentorship and support. Emphasis is placed on training fellow to become good surgical educators and ample time is given for fellows to develop these skills throughout training. 

The two clinical fellows trade off weeks taking weekday back-up call from Monday through Friday at 5pm. The three fellows share weekend converge Friday night to Monday morning. 

There are three residents on the gyn onc team: a PGY3 who is mostly operating, a PGY2 who shares floor coverage responsibility with an APP, and a PGY1 who attends Gyn Oncology faculty clinics. There is a night float PGY3 that is assigned to our service and takes first call on pages overnight. On weekends, either a PGY2-4 takes call for the service depending on the time of year.

The most recent fellows have come from the East Coast, the Chicago area, the Southeast. The residents hail from the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, and the Midwest.

Learn more about our recent Gyn Onc fellowship graduates.

This group asks about wellness and genuinely cares that it is being fostered. Faculty query about family and home life and activities. There is a balanced call schedule to give fellows time away from work to be well rounded. There is support from the division to take a mindfulness course, which a number of the fellows have taken and enjoyed. There is no expectation that fellows who are not on call are working in off hours and on weekends. When life events come up, the PD and APD are very approachable and help come up with solutions to get fellows the support and time they need. The holiday call scheduled is split evenly among the fellows, including the three major holidays.

Favorite restaurants: Sardine; Grampa’s Pizzeria; Mint Mark; Estrellon; Heritage Tavern; Bartaco; Salvatore’s Tomato Pies; The Old Fashioned 

Favorite bars: Eno Vino for wine and incredible views of the Capitol; Weary Traveler for beer and pub food; Gib’s for great cocktails in a loungey space 

Grocery: Willy Street Co-op; Trader Joe’s; Whole Foods

Heartily, yes, to all the above. You will find your people here, and we will welcome and embrace your people/pets/friends/etc. with open arms. A number of fellows have come with children, or added to their families during fellowship. Pets are a common topic of conversation among our group.

From current fellows: The near east side (the isthmus and the area just east of it), which is a funky, liberal neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bikes, dogs, babies and tattoos. It’s near a lot of parks, has some great bike paths, and gives access to the lakes pretty easily.

Downtown - near the Capitol Square is home to some of Madison’s best shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. It has the most “city” feel of any of the neighborhoods in Madison and is easily accessible to the hospital and all of what Madison has to offer!

While there are many others, here are some sites to get a feel: 

Destination Madison - Neat Neighborhoods

The Five Most Popular Neighborhoods for Madison Renters

I like to go running, bike, take my dog to the dog park, and go on hikes/trail runs.  I just bought a mountain bike and love to check out the myriad trails around Madison. I also like to explore new neighborhoods via their restaurants, coffee shops, and beer establishments. Live music is easy to catch here too, outside in the summer at the plethora of festivals or at the Sylvee and other smaller venues.

Kayaking! There are many places you can rent kayaks and paddle board including paddling downtown with amazing view of the Capitol. I also love spending time with friends in coffee shops or restaurants. The bike trails are wonderful. There are also many great day trips just outside Madison for camping, hiking, etc.

Fellows are given 15 days off, which can be used in any combination as long as approved by the senior fellow and program leadership. Holidays are split between the three fellows.

Fellowship Director

Ryan Spencer, MD, MS
Ryan Spencer, MD, MS

Gynecologic Oncology

UW Hospital and Clinics, Room: H4-646
600 Highland Ave
Madison, WI, 53705