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How to become an Oncologist
An oncologist is a medical physician who specializes in the study of cancer.
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.
What does an Oncologist do?
An oncologist is a medical physician who diagnoses and treats patients with cancer.
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.
What skills or qualities do I need to become an Oncologist?
If you are thinking about becoming an oncologist, you must be prepared to spend 4 years obtaining a medical degree plus an additional 2-4 years in an oncology residency program at a cancer hospital.
The ability to ...