Association of Radiation Oncology Program Administrators: Roots, Resources and Outreach

Many years ago, when immersed in the role of program coordinator for the University of Pennsylvania’s Radiation Oncology Residency Program, Cordelia (Cordy) Baffic began hatching a plan: design an organization that would elevate positions such as hers from clerical to professional while serving as an educational resource for administrators of radiation oncology educational programs. In 2010, that vision became reality when she founded the Association of Radiation Oncology Program Coordinators (AROPC).

In the early years, Cordy spent a lot of time encouraging radiation oncology residency program directors and department chairs to create a staff position dedicated solely to managing educational programs. The time spent paid off as more programs created the role, and coordinators began to join the AROPC for training, support, and networking.

The AROPC began holding annual meetings, which were very impactful. These meetings eventually caught the attention of academic institutions nationwide, radiation oncology national associations, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). As the coordinator’s role gained recognition as an intricate part of the educational team, the ACGME created the ACGME Coordinators Advisory Group for which Cordy was an inaugural member. This group continues to serve as a consultative body to the ACGME administration concerning coordinators, graduate medical education (GME), and accreditation matters.

In early 2023, the AROPC changed its name to the Association of Radiation Oncology Program Administrators (AROPA) to send a message that the position continues to evolve as its scope continues to broaden. AROPA has become one of the most respected radiation oncology national associations that holds membership for not only GME coordinators but also medical physics. The organization promotes, serves, advocates, and provides professional development and leadership for its members in both the US and abroad. Now, the accrediting bodies of medical and medical physics radiation oncology fields recognize AROPA as the only organization that educates program administrators in the academic, administrative oversight, and management of radiation oncology residency, fellowship, master, and graduate medical physics educational programs.

Over the years, the organization has evolved to help administrators stay abreast of national trends and adapt to changes within their respective institutions through professional development opportunities, networking, and sharing updates in policies and requirements from accrediting bodies. AROPA continues to evolve to serve its members’ needs. In the past couple of years, it has established itself as a nonprofit organization to allow for scholarship funding for admins in need who may not have support from their home institutions. Additionally, in the last three to four years, our leadership has been invited to serve on the ASTRO Association of Directors of Radiation Oncology Programs (ADROP) Executive Committee, where we work to teach stakeholders in the specialty about new requirements and to share practices across programs for the common goal of increasing awareness about the specialty and impacting the pipeline. We recently began expanding our services to radiation physics administrators and program directors. We actively seek ways to recruit and engage current and new members, as our service touches all aspects of radiation oncology. We continue to grow as changes occur across the continuum of learning. As a result, we are thrilled to be a part of the next generation of radiation oncology learners’ development journey.

As mentioned, our current initiatives include expanding membership outreach to those in the medical physics community. The membership expansion includes supporting the network of individuals serving as program administrators for medical physics residency and graduate programs (PhD, DMP, MMP). Our organization recently held its inaugural AROPA Annual Medical Physics meeting on August 3, 2023. Over 100 programs were represented! Topics included Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Educational Programs (CAMPEP) standards, best practices for recruitment, and innovative ways to move programs forward.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been given national attention and are imperative to reduce health disparities. Aligning to national and institutional goals, current AROPA initiatives entail the following:

  • Making all members aware of ACGME regulations, policies, and guidelines and providing guidance to locate resources on the website.
  • Informing all members of AAMC regulations, policies, and guidelines and providing guidance to locate resources on the website.
  • Instituting a culture of equity and inclusivity for all members.
  • Providing tips, resources, best practices, and literature regarding tools to recruit and retain trainees during interview season.

Acknowledging that our website serves as a resource for members and a hub for shared information, we recently pursued redevelopment to streamline member enrollment and enhance its design for ease of usability and access. We are recognized as the national website for radiation oncology and physics administrators, and our newly designed website was developed to meet this need. Professional presentation of AROPA is primary, and we have established our website to serve as an integral part of our efforts in reaching out to all audiences interested and invested in radiation oncology education and training. We update the website often to play a more active role in the organization’s marketing efforts and to broadcast all changes and updates in the field.

The members of AROPA have played a pivotal role in shaping the growth and success of the program administrator position. Individuals have gained invaluable insights into effective project management and leadership skills through their guidance and support. AROPA has also been instrumental in honing the ability to prioritize tasks, communicate effectively, and adapt to the ever-changing situations within residency programs.

Furthermore, seasoned mentors have served as trusted advisors offering valuable program-specific knowledge and experiences that have significantly influenced professional development. Their willingness to share their challenges and triumphs has motivated administrators to persevere through obstacles and strive for excellence as program administrators.

The AROPA is proud to have ACGME-accredited radiation oncology medical residency program members, many with corresponding CAMPEP-accredited medical physics residency programs. Management and oversight of an ACGME-accredited physician-based or CAMPEP-accredited medical physics residency program is complicated. However, AROPA helps program administrators quickly become a substantial resource for interpreting and documenting the implementation of ACGME or CAMPEP program requirements.

AROPA membership promotes, advocates, and serves its members with:

  • An active listserv providing real-time support.
  • Access to knowledge base and experienced users of various residency management systems (MedHub, New Innovations, etc.).
  • Best practice discussion and insights on a wide range of evaluation tools.
  • Access to a variety of resources for “little” programs to implement “big” ideas.
  • Resources and support for professional development (TAGME, etc.).
  • Mentorship. “Get one/Be one” to support every level of knowledge and experience
  • Lunch and Learns on various topics.
  • Annual meetings hosted adjacent to the ACGME Annual Education Conference with a modest registration fee to cover venue expenses.

Please visit our website to learn more about us and discover the shared resources and continuous support that membership can bring to your program administrator or others with an active role in the direct administration of radiation oncology and medical physics training at your institution.

Cordelia Baffic

The founder of the Association of Radiation Oncology Program Administrators (AROPA).

Marlene Kromchad, C-TAGME

President of AROPA

Emily Rawn, BA, C-TAGME

Vice President of AROPA

Denise De La Cruz, EdD

Immediate past president of AROPA.

Thalia Yaden, C-TAGME

Director of AROPA member services

DeAnna O’Connell

Chair of the AROPA Steering Committee

Melissa Dawson, MSOL, MHA, DHA

Director of diversity, equity & inclusion of AROPA

Annette Eakes Ponnie, MSW

Director of communications for AROPA