The Educational Path to Obtaining an Oncologist Job

Published: 19th July 2009
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An oncologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancerous tumors. Their general duties include diagnosing the patient, requesting and analyzing tests, recommending treatment, carrying out treatment, checking up on the patient's status, and coordinating with other physicians and if necessary surgeons, to ensure the patient is getting the best possible treatment. Because the oncologist is present during the duration of the patient's treatment, it is important to maintain a caring and informative approach throughout the process.

The field of oncology evolves daily; currently, there are four main branches of oncology in which to specialize:

• Medical Oncology

• Radiation Oncology

• Pediatric Oncology

• Surgical Oncology

Becoming an oncologist, or any kind of doctor, is a lengthy, rigorous and intense process that is separated into five critical phases:


To obtain any sort of graduate degree, one must first complete their bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Here are some helpful tips in choosing the undergraduate university that is best for your educational career:

• It has been recognized that many universities with medical schools tend to disproportionately accept students who attended their undergraduate program. Attending such a university would allow you to check out the medical program first hand and make a final decision on whether or not this is the right career path. If it is, you have a leg up on most of the other applicants.

• Some universities offer accelerated 6-year medical programs that allow you to complete your undergraduate and graduate degree two years faster than average. Keep in mind, this route is for those who are most certain in their decision to practice medicine.


Now that you have completed your Bachelor's degree with a fundamental knowledge of chemistry, human anatomy, physiology, ethics, and molecular biology, you are ready to apply to medical school. Here, you will begin your training as a medical professional and build a stronger foundation of knowledge in the field of oncology.


After attending medical school, you are now an oncologist in training. First you must complete a one year internship that serves to prepare you for your residency, which can last anywhere between 3 and 8 years. During your residency, you are allowed to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. If you are choosing to specialize in a specific branch, this is the phase to declare it.


After completing your residency, you are now prepared to become a certified oncologist. In the United States, one must pass a state-licensing exam, in order to legally practice medicine. The test consists of a written and oral exam as well as a review of the oncologist's work.


Because of the severity of the disease, there is constant research being conducted on cancer and new findings occur each year. Once you become board certified, it is your duty to maintain ongoing research in your field to provide your patients with the most up-to-date and relevant advice.

To learn more about careers in oncology visit the oncologist job page for more information and how to apply for a job.

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