ASTRO   |   RT Answers

Sarah Thurman, MD

Why did you choose to support ROI?
I learned about the ROI as I prepared to undergo my board recertification. During the process of recertification, having been in practice for about a decade, I realized how much I appreciated the education I received in residency, the mentors who had helped me, and the opportunities to learn that had come my way. I felt so lucky to have been given many opportunities to learn, clinically and academically. Quite simply, I wanted to give back in some way to the organization that supported and would continue to support me through the rest of my career.

Why should others donate to ROI?
I believe that all physicians in the field of radiation oncology have an obligation to our patients to practice the highest quality of medicine. To do this, we need to support education and research in whatever way possible. We need to stay up to date on research and new thought processes regarding therapeutic treatment. The goal being to make treatment better for the next person who has to go through it. ROI works toward that goal.

Why did you become a radiation oncologist?
I learned about the specialty of radiation oncology from my father, who was double boarded in diagnostic and radiation oncology in 1963. As most people know, we have little to no exposure to the field of radiation oncology during medical school. To me, the discipline of radiation oncology keeps me intellectually engaged, provides patient contact and affords constant exposure to physics and the visual discipline of diagnostic radiology, both of which I enjoy. Treating patients constantly involves problem-solving, which I find intellectually challenging. Having been in practice now for over a decade, I continue to learn on a daily basis.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities and threats to our field?
The biggest opportunity for radiation oncologists to make a difference—is to take leadership roles in treating patients in a multidisciplinary format. Participation in multidisciplinary tumor boards and clinics affords the radiation oncologist the opportunity to deliver an opinion in a public forum, answer questions and educate our peers about evolving treatment modalities as part of a prospective treatment plan. Some of the biggest threats to our field:

  • First, the lack of seamless technology interface with equipment from different vendors. Vendors need to work with clinicians and each other to develop technology to prevent catastrophic errors—the end goal is improved patient care.
  • Secondarily, progressive government involvement in the practice of medicine. The ever changing regulations for coding, reimbursement, unnecessary documentation are time consuming hoops we jump through in case we are audited, time that could be better spent on direct patient care.


Dr. Thurman is a radiation oncologist at NorthMain Radiation Oncology. Her areas of interest include breast, thoracic, skin and head and neck malignancies. Prior to joining NorthMain Radiation Oncology, Dr. Thurman was Medical Director at Massachusetts General Hospital Radiation Oncology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Acting Division Chief. She is also a Mentor in the ROI Founder's Circle.