Cancer is an illness that can affect individuals of all ages, races and genders. However, with the modern technology and advancements in the medical industry, the illness can now be treated and every cancer patient has a chance to beat the illness. Oncologists are tasked with the difficult duty of treating such patients and in some cases, they have to deliver difficult messages regarding their patients’ disease. Although being an oncologist is demanding, it is a very rewarding career. As such, any person who desires to explore a profession in oncology needs to first understand what the job involves and also get informed on its disciplines and the qualifications required to venture into each.

Oncologist Job Description

Oncologists can either work as radiation, pediatric, gynecological, surgical or medical oncologists. Depending on what a professional decides to focus on, the individual may be in charge of different duties. Medical oncologists make diagnoses for cancer through different tests including CT scans, biopsies or MRI. Oncologists who are specialized on the surgical aspects concentrate on performing surgeries in order to remove cancer tumors and prevent fatalities. Radiation oncologists offer radiation therapy to patients in order to shrink tumors or even eliminate the cancerous cells altogether.

Gynecological oncologists provide treatment for female cancer patients while pediatric oncologists treat cancer in children. There are also hematologists who give treatment for malignancies such as leukemia. Regardless of their area of specialty, oncologists work with physicians and other medical staff to evaluate whether or not the cancer has affected other areas. The more widespread it is, the more invasive the surgery.

The oncologist job description includes:
  • Perform physical assessments to detect cancerous cells
  • Develop treatment plans based on the nature of the cancer
  • Carry out surgical procedures on the areas affected by cancer and cancer treatments
  • Complete procedures such as mammograms and prostate exam that stop the malignancy from spreading.
  • Provide treatment options such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Collect medical information on patient histories
  • Inform patients about the treatment options available for their cancer
  • Provide support for cancer patients
  • Carry out medical research

Oncologist Prerequisites

Oncologists must pass a comprehensive exam in their area of specialty and they must also be board certified before they start practicing as professionals. Oncologists also need to possess good interpersonal skill in order to deal with cancer patients effectively. Such skills are also useful where there’s need to communication with the families and friends of the patient. They have to be emotionally strong as well so they can support patients in dealing with the fear and possibility of death.

How to become an Oncologist

Oncology is a sub specialty in the medical field and therefore oncologists have to study and obtain licenses for this before they can begin to practice. The education requirements for oncologists are comparable to those of other doctors. Their education path has to begin with a bachelor’s course – they must have a degree (doctor of medicine) from a recognized institution.  Apart from that, they must also complete four years in medical school after which they can get into residency in order to acquire board certification. In the course of training, oncologists have to put in a minimum of three years into internships related to oncology.

The requisites in medical schools are stringent and candidates may be required to sit for a test and get good scores before they are accepted. Additional exams may also be administered before a student can start their residency

Oncologist Training

While oncologists have to learn how to deal with different cancers, they may also specialize in specific types. The specialization may take up to 5 additional years of training. This preparation enables the specialists to have a better understanding of how different treatment options work for each type of cancer. It also enables them to keep up with the changes in the medical field so that they are able to diagnose and provide better treatment for cancer patients.

Oncologist Certification

Oncologist professionals have to be certified by the board of radiology and the certification they get remains valid for 10 years after which they have to undergo a retesting process. Once they have obtained the required certification, oncologists can look forward to rewarding job opportunities. An oncologist can work in private practice firms or get self employed, though they have to be licensed by the authorities in charge in their area of practice.

Oncologist Salary

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Oncologist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the oncologist job description:
  • Diagnose and treat patients with cancer
  • Work with nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • 4 year bachelor’s degree
  • 4 year medical school program
  • 3 years internship program
  • Up to 5 additional years in a specialization program
  • Must be licensed to practice
  • 18% employment growth by 2022