How Long Does it Take to Become An Oncologist?

Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by Team College Learners

Becoming an oncologist is a rewarding career path that requires many years of education and training. Oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, making a significant impact on the lives of their patients. In order to become an oncologist, individuals must first complete a bachelor’s degree, attend medical school for four years, and then participate in internship and residency programs for an additional 3 to 7 years. Intotal the whole process can last for

Admission to medical school is highly competitive, with applicants needing to demonstrate academic excellence, strong interpersonal skills, and a genuine passion for medicine. In addition to completing undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, and other related fields, prospective students must also achieve a competitive score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Recommendation letters, extracurricular activities, and personal statements are also important components of the medical school application process.

Once admitted to medical school, students will spend four years completing a rigorous curriculum that includes classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical rotations. Following graduation, aspiring oncologists will enter a residency program in internal medicine, which typically lasts for four to six years. During this time, residents will gain hands-on experience in various medical specialties, including oncology, as they work under the supervision of experienced physicians.

High Paying Oncologist Jobs

  • MOHS Surgeon. Salary range: $360,000-$400,000 per year. …
  • Hematologist Oncologist. Salary range: $285,000-$400,000 per year. …
  • Radiation Oncologist. Salary range: $400,000-$400,000 per year. …
  • Surgical Oncologist. Salary range: $300,000-$387,500 per year. …
  • Pediatric Oncologist. …
  • Oncology Social Worker.
What Is an Oncologist: What You Need to Know About Cancer Doctors

How to Become An Oncologist

What’s it like to be a medical oncologist?

If you want to become a medical oncologist, you’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree, go to medical school for 4 years, and then complete a 2- to 5-year residency.

While in medical school, you’ll spend 2 years learning about different diseases and treatments in the classroom and 2 years practicing in a hospital setting. You’ll also have the opportunity to specialize your studies by taking elective courses that focus on cancer.

After you graduate from medical school, you’ll need to complete a residency program that focuses on oncology. Residency is when aspiring doctors work under the supervision of licensed doctors in their field.

Medical oncologists are responsible for diagnosing cancer and treating it with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. They also help patients manage their symptoms and side effects of treatment.

Oncologists are physicians who treat patients with cancer and related diseases. The specialty includes medical oncologists, who prescribe and administer medication; radiation oncologists, who administer radiation therapy; and pediatric oncologists, who treat children. All oncologists complete rigorous residency training after graduating from medical school. Radiation and medical oncologists require five years of residency training, while pediatric oncologists complete six years of post-graduate education.

Medical oncology is a type of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer. A medical oncologist’s job is to take care of cancer patients by using things like chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.

A medical oncologist will work with other doctors to create a treatment plan that’s best for you. They’ll explain your cancer diagnosis to you, including the type and what stage you have. They’ll also help you manage your cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

When Will You See a Medical Oncologist?

You’ll probably see a medical oncologist right after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. This is usually one of the first steps of your cancer journey.

They can help you understand your diagnosis as well as the timeline of your cancer treatment. You’ll also want to see a medical oncologist for any questions you might have.

You may also see other oncologists depending on the type of cancer you have and what sort of a treatment plan you want. There are three main types:

  • A medical oncologist will treat your cancer with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
  • A radiation oncologist will treat your cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A surgical oncologist uses surgery to remove tumors. They also perform biopsies, where they’ll remove a tiny piece of tissue so they can test it.

Other oncologists treat certain types of cancer. They include:

  • Gynecologic oncologists: Cancers like cervical, ovarian, and uterine
  • Hematologist oncologists: Blood cancers like myeloma, leukemia, and lymphoma
  • Pediatric oncologists: Cancer in children
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What Does It Take to Become an Oncologist?

If you or a loved one are dealing with cancer, an oncologist, or cancer doctor, likely will play a pivotal role in your cancer care. You might wonder, just what is an oncologist? What kind of training have they had?By: UCHealth Writers  June 19, 2015 

If you or a loved one are dealing with cancer, likely, an oncologist, or cancer doctor, will play a pivotal role in your cancer care. But, you might be wondering, just what is an oncologist? What kind of training have they had. Well, below is a list of steps of what it takes to become a cancer doctor:

  1. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree. The first step you must take on your journey to becoming an oncologist is earning your Bachelor’s degree. When choosing classes, make sure to include plenty of science, chemistry and biology classes because these are the types of classes that will enhance your knowledge of the medical field.
  2. Take the Medical College Admissions Test. Around the time you are a junior in college, it will be required of you to take the Medical College Admissions Test if you wish to go on to medical school after earning your Bachelor’s degree. This test is grueling but if you can pass this test, you are definitely prepared for medical school.
  3. Attend Medical School and Earn Your MD or DO Degree. Upon earning your Bachelor’s degree and passing the Medical College Admissions Test, your next step towards becoming an oncologist is completing 4 years of medical school. Medical school will involve 2 years of classroom work followed by 2 years in a hospital or clinic setting where you will be exposed to real life medical issues.
  4. Complete Residency. A residency is the professional training in a hospital or clinic that is required before you can become an oncologist The length of residency time required will depend on the specialized area of oncology you are studying and can last anywhere between 2 to 5 years.
  5. Obtain Proper License and Certification. After completing the schooling and residency needed to become an oncologist, you will need to obtain your license in the state you work. For example, if you want to become a Colorado Springs oncologist, you will need to obtain your medical license in Colorado. In order to earn your license, you will need to show proof of schooling and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination.

At UCHealth, we have some of the top cancer doctors in Colorado and the West.

Medical Oncology- Everything to know about! - Healthcare and Disease  Prevention Tips - Blog - Venkateshwar Hospital

What Kind of Training Does a Medical Oncologist Have?

So you want to become a medical oncologist, huh?

That’s great! I’m glad you’re researching what it takes to become one. I’ve outlined all the steps you’re going to need to take below, but first:

What is a medical oncologist?

A medical oncologist is someone who deals with cancer. They don’t perform surgeries, but they do diagnose diseases, prescribe treatments and medications, and work with other professionals (like surgeons) to make sure their patients have the best chance of surviving the disease.

Okay, great! So how do I become one?

You first have to earn a bachelor’s degree. This takes about four years and will probably cost you around $20-30k at a public university. Once that’s done, you’ll go to medical school for another four years. This includes two years studying in a classroom and two years practicing in a hospital setting. You’ll graduate with an M.D., which qualifies you to work as a doctor—in this case, as an oncologist. Some doctors then go on to specialize in certain areas; this is called your residency or fellowship and can take anywhere from two to six more years depending on what area you choose to focus on. Medical

Next, they’ll complete a 2- to 5-year residency where they get special training in a hospital. Finally, they’ll get certified and licensed in the state where they want to practice medical oncology. Related Article

How to Find the Right Medical Oncologist for You

Start by asking your primary care doctor for suggestions. Or call a trusted hospital to see what medical oncologists work there and who might be a good fit for you. Choose one who treats the type of cancer you have and who takes your insurance. You can also:

  • Talk to friends or family members who’ve had the same cancer. They can tell you which doctors took care of them and what the process was like.
  • Ask the medical oncologist about their experience and credentials. They can tell you exactly how many years of experience they have and if they have any advanced or specialized training. For example, if the medical oncologist is board certified in oncology, that means they passed an intense, high-level test.
  • Ask how to contact them after hours. Find out if your doctor is available on weekends and holidays.
  • Meet the medical oncologist and staff. You can do this either in person or over the phone. Meeting the team can give you a sense of how they’re going to help you with your treatment. This is also a good opportunity to make sure they’re willing and ready to answer your questions.

How to Prepare for an Appointment

Bring any medical records you have, like copies of imaging tests (like MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays). A list of all the medications you take could help, too. Some medical oncologists like it better when you bring the actual medications instead of a list. This includes any supplements, vitamins, or herbs.

It could help to bring a family member or close friend with you. You’ll get lots of information during the appointment, and they can help you by taking notes and listening, in case you forget anything. They can also provide support.

Write down as many questions as you can before your appointment. There’s a chance you might forget once you’re face-to-face with your oncologist. You might want to ask:

  • When do I need to start treatment, and what are my treatment options?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What are the risks and side effects of this treatment?
  • How will treatment affect my daily life or routine?

What to Expect at an Oncology Appointment

If it’s your first oncology appointment, it could last a few hours. The oncologist will spend time going over your medical history.

They might give you a physical exam, even if your primary care doctor did one recently. That’s because physical exams can show signs of cancer that doctors who don’t treat it every day might miss. Your oncologist could also order more tests, like imaging tests (such as CT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds), or they might take a sample of your blood or urine. You might need a biopsy, too.

During your appointment, the oncologist may give you a basic idea of how long treatment will take. They could also give you a prognosis, or an idea of how you’ll respond to treatment. You might also meet other doctors on your treatment team. They’ll explain things like costs and the insurance process, too.

What is a Medical Oncologist? Radiation & Oncology | SERO

How long does it take to become an oncologist?

To become an oncologist, you will have to go through 11 to 12 years of education and training. First, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years to get. In your bachelor’s program, you will have to take the prerequisite courses for your prospective medical school. Even though these courses can vary across medical schools, the most common ones are chemistry, biology, physics, calculus, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and English. These courses will prepare you to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which you will need to get a good score on to be accepted into good medical schools. After you complete the requirements, you will have to complete four years of medical school to earn a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree or a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Once you become a doctor, you will have to complete a residency program, which takes three to four years to complete.

Medical Education

A bachelor’s degree, which normally takes four years to earn at an accredited college or university, is required for admission to medical school. A future doctor’s undergraduate curriculum includes chemistry, biology and physics. Medical students who intend to pursue careers in oncology complete four years of graduate study toward an M.D. degree at a traditional medical school, or they can earn a D.O. from an accredited school of osteopathic medicine. The course of study for all medical school students is the same for all aspiring doctors; there are no specific courses in oncology.

Medical Oncologists

Medical oncology is a subspecialty of internal medicine, and the organization that certifies oncologists is the American Board of Internal Medicine, or ABIM. A medical oncologist must first spend 36 months as an internal medicine resident. After completing that residency and passing the ABIM certification exams in internal medicine, he goes on to complete a two-year fellowship in medical oncology. Once he passes the ABIM medical oncology exam, he becomes board-certified in the specialty. The entire process takes five years, so a medical oncologist requires a total of nine years of medical education and training.

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Radiation Oncologists

A radiation oncologist begins post-graduate training with a one-year general residency in one or a combination of specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology. A preliminary year of residency in radiation oncology, known as a categorical or transitional year, also meets the initial training requirements of the American Board of Radiology. To earn ABR certification in radiation oncology, a candidate must complete a full four-year specialty residency program to be eligible to take the board exams. By the time a radiation oncologist official enters the field, he has completed nine years of graduate and post-graduate training.

Pediatric Cancer Specialists

A pediatric cancer specialist is also trained in the treatment of blood diseases, so the American Board of Pediatrics grants certification in pediatric hematology-oncology. The ABP considers it a subspecialty of general pediatrics, so a physician must complete a three-year residency in general pediatrics and attain board certification before pursuing training in pediatric hematology-oncology. This is followed by a three-year fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology, after which a candidate passes a set of exams to earn board certification. The entire medical education and training period for a pediatric oncologist is 10 years.

What is an oncologist? Everything you need to know

So, what does it take to become an oncologist? In summary, you will need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in any major, four years of medical school, and three years of clinical training. If you want to specialize in a specific area of oncology, you will need to complete an additional one-year fellowship.

You don’t necessarily have to study pre-med or science in college; as long as you meet the GPA requirement for medical schools and score well on the MCATs, you will be able to apply. The most important thing is that you are passionate about helping others who are struggling with chronic and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.

Oncologists can experience a lot of stress, trauma, and heartbreak on the job. However, they also have the ability to help people fight cancer and beat it with their treatment plans. Plus, they get to work closely with other doctors and nurses as well as patients in need. If this sounds like your dream job, start preparing now!

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