Oncology is a biomedical specialty that focuses on cancer. In terms of career opportunities, the field is fairly broad. There are scientific researchers, clinical oncologists (MDs), radiation therapists and oncology nurses to name a few. Read on to discover more about the field of oncology.
Oncology is the study and treatment of cancer. Medical scientists study the causes, effects and behavior of cancer and the role that genetics and the environment play in cancer development. The scientists then work on developing treatments to help cure the cancer. Clinical oncologists are doctors (MDs) who diagnose what type of cancer a patient has and then prescribe treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy. Those working in oncology should be compassionate, disciplined, skilled in science and math and have a desire to help eradicate cancer.
To pursue a career in oncology, a student needs to decide if he or she wishes to be a full-fledged doctor or another part of the oncology team, such as a radiation technologist, researcher or a clinical nurse specialist. Determining which discipline the student wishes to pursue will help them focus on the correct type of education required for the job.
Becoming an MD who specializes in oncology requires a bachelor's degree, four years of medical school and several years of a residency program. The student then must pass various exams to become licensed by the state to practice as an MD. Furthermore, the future oncologist will need another three years of a fellowship program to specialize in oncology. After this, the doctor may want to pursue board licensing in the oncology specialty by passing the board exams. Passing the board exams means that the doctor has been deemed competent within the specialty.
Another career option is becoming an oncology nurse. These professionals will need to first attend nursing school, obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing, gain clinical nursing experience and be accepted into a Master of Science in Nursing with an oncology specialization. Nurses, like physicians, must also be licensed by the state in which he or she is employed. For those who wish to work directly with the patients in administering treatments such as radiation, a degree in radiation therapy will be required, as well as state licensing.
A doctorate in medical or biological science can prepare graduates for a career in oncology research or teaching at the graduate level. Research oncologists work for universities, medical schools, pharmaceutical companies and medical research facilities and often pursue an MD/Ph.D. degree concurrently.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for all types of physicians and surgeons, not just oncologists, was expected to grow between 2008 and 2018 by 22%, much faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for all physicians and surgeons in May 2010 was reported by the BLS as $166,400. Medical scientists, on the other hand, had a reported median annual income in May 2010 of $76,700, while radiation therapists made a median annual wage of $74,980. The BLS doesn't give information for oncology nurses specifically. However, nurses in general were reported to have excellent job prospects with a growth of approximately 22% between 2008 and 2018. The median annual wage for registered nurses from May 2010 was reported as $64,690.
Learn More About Oncology
The field of oncology is growing rapidly as the population ages and the number of cancer cases grows. If you have a desire to help patients overcome their cancer diagnosis, the oncology field may be the place for you. Education-Portal.com can help you determine which career path within the field of oncology might be the best for you.
There are many training options for the student interested in the field of oncology. Take a look at the links below to explore the best education path.
- Oncology Degree
- Oncology Assistant Degree
- Radiation Therapy Degree Information
- Ph.D. in Medical Science
Becoming an MD is only one career option in the field of oncology. It's possible to work directly with patients without going to medical school. The articles below provide more information.
For the student who wishes to become a full-fledged doctor in the field of oncology, there are also specialization options within the field. Education-Portal.com can help you decide which oncology specialization may appeal to you.
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