How to Become an Oncologist

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


Oncology is an important field of medicine that deals with studying, diagnosing, and treating cancer. To become an oncologist, licensing and medical training is required. Oncologists are doctors who diagnose and treat cancer patients using a variety of treatment methods. Learn more about how to become an oncologist and view recommended oncology training and online degree programs.

What does an oncologist do?

Oncologists diagnose and treat many different types of cancer and related diseases in a variety of patients. They review medical history, specific symptoms, location and stage of the cancer, and other effects. They use a variety of options to diagnose patients such as biopsies, blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, and other techniques. They assess each patient and provide a variety of treatment options including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone treatment, and other types of treatment. They follow up with all patients and consistently monitor them to assess if the treatment was successful. Oncologists also treat patients with issues related to the cancer and treatment such as pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anorexia, and immobility.

What kind of training does an oncologist need?

Like all other doctors, oncologists must graduate from an accredited medical school. They then must complete residency training as a specialist in internal medicine and then additional training in oncology. Many oncologists also complete internships or fellowships in oncology. Some oncologists pursue advance education and training in a subspecialty area such as radiation, pediatric, surgical, gynecological, and medical oncology. Oncologists must also be current on the latest technical advances and treatments options and participate in ongoing continuing education throughout their careers.

All states require oncologists to be licensed. Licensing requirements include graduating from an accredited medical school, completing an internal medicine residency, completing oncology training, and passing a licensing examination. Many oncologists also seek board certification to remain competitive in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as an oncologist?

Employment of all doctors and surgeons is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% through 2016. An aging population and more diagnoses of cancer and related diseases will drive job growth for oncologists.

For anyone considering whether and how to become an oncologist, the job prospects are expected to be very good especially for oncologists with advanced education and extensive experience. Job opportunities will also arise from the need to replace oncologists who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do oncologists make?

As of this year, the middle 50% of oncologists earned average annual salaries between $206,667 and $345,115. The top 10% earned average annual salaries of more than $417,751.

A career as an oncologist is a great choice for individuals who are interested in studying, diagnosing, and treatment many different forms of cancer in a variety of patients. Oncologists must be self-motivated, have good bedside manner, and be able to make quick and effective decisions. They must be emotionally stable and be able to break devastating news to patients and families. Sensitivity, compassion, and ability to work effectively as part of a team are essential.

Becoming an Oncologist Requires Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming an Oncologist? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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