A shortage of radiation oncologists has been a problem in both Canada and the United States of America. The fundamental step to rectify this situation is the recruitment of interested medical students. A mail-in survey was sent to 214 third- and fourth-year medical students at the University of British Columbia to evaluate attitudes to and the level of understanding of radiation oncology. The response rate was 59%. Seventy-five percent of the students were planning postgraduate training in clinically orientated specialties with good lifestyle and availability of job opportunities. However, only 18% of the respondents considered radiation oncology as a possible specialty. This survey suggests that this lack of interest is the result of misconceptions about training in the practice of radiotherapy. To better inform the medical students, teaching clinics providing them with direct contact with radiation oncologists and their patients, are invaluable. In order to generate the correct image of the specialty and the types of patients encountered, teaching in an ambulatory care setting is not to be neglected. Distribution of information pamphlets describing the radiation oncology program and the nature of radiation oncology practice is also suggested as an efficient means of informing medical students.