How to become an Oncologist
Job Duties of an Oncologist
Skills and Qualities of an Oncologist
Influential Professional Oncologists
Leading Oncologist Organizations
Top Cities for Oncology Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
In order to become an oncologist, you must first become a medical doctor. This requires hard work and a strong conviction to succeed. In high school, the basic required courses would include the sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics: calculus, trigonometry, algebra and geometry.
Following this career path involves dedication, a strong desire, a vast amount of studying, large student loans or availability of funds, plus four years of medical school. The first two years are generally spent in a classroom setting while the final years provide hands-on experience in a clinical setting.
Upon completion of medical school and receiving the M.D. designation - Doctor of Medicine degree - a physician can enter into a 2-3 year residency program at an approved hospital in the study of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2007, over 559,000 people died from cancer while at the same time another 1.4million people were diagnosed with cancer for the first time.
This involves the study of tumors, managing chemotherapy regimens of patients, pain management, along with the assessing and re-assessing of cancer patients.
As it can be a very trying time for a patient who has been diagnosed with cancer, this specialty also involves a high level of patient care, which takes into factor the emotional and spiritual health of the patient as well as the medical diagnosis. An oncologist must possess very good communication skills and a genuine desire to help people.
Oncologists can work in hospitals and specialized medical centers. They can also practice at university hospitals and research facilities or teach medical students.
A medical oncologist uses chemotherapy medications in the treatment of cancer while a surgical oncologist performs surgical procedures to remove tumors. A radiation oncologist specializes in using therapeutic radiation to treat cancer.
Further specialties for an oncologist include gynecology, pediatric, or even veterinary oncology. An oncologist can also specialize in a specific type of cancer, for example, breast, lung, prostate or melanoma cancers.
An oncologist could pursue a career in research in the field of cancer, which would involve studying prevention, genetics and causes. Oncologists can also be involved in palliative patient care whereby, even though a patient is in a terminal situation, they continue to ensure that the patient receives the best care possible.
The ability to listen to a patient and explain sometimes very complicated procedures in a simple and easy to understand way is crucial. An oncologist must be able to display a true sense of compassion as the very mention of the word cancer can evoke fear in a patient. Expressing real empathy for the patient in their time of need is a quality skill that any physician should possess.
An ongoing thirst for knowledge is a must as developments in cancer studies are constantly changing. New drugs become available and drug trials may also be available to those patients who may qualify.
Oncologists often face stressful situations as they are dealing directly with patients who may be facing life-threatening news with a diagnosis of cancer. In the same respect, a career in oncology can also be very rewarding as many patients recover from their illness in full.
Dr. Arlene A. Forastiere is another well-known professor at Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in the treatment of cancer related to the head, neck and throat. Dr. Forastiere has been involved in the writing of over 150 articles on the subject of cancer.
Dr. Maurie Markman has specialized in gynecological cancer for over twenty years. He is the Vice President of Clinical Research at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and has been involved in the writing of ten books on the subject of cancer.
With the presence of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston is the top city in the United States for oncologist jobs. This is quickly followed by Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic.
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