An oncology fellowship is the last step in a training sequence to become a practicing oncologist, or a physician who diagnoses and treats cancer. Training can take up to nine years to complete, and the fellowship itself typically lasts three years. Getting a fellowship spot requires completing the appropriate education and submitting called for documentation. Since competition is fierce for fellowships, top scores and research are important qualifications.
Admissions decisions for an oncology fellowship are based on applicants' success in their medical school and residency programs, and the selection process is extremely competitive. Most programs accept fewer than a dozen fellows each year, despite receiving hundreds of applications. Required steps and suggestions for getting into one of these fellowship programs are outlined below.
Graduate from Medical School
After earning their bachelor's degrees, prospective physicians enroll in accredited Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) programs. Upon completing one of these three-year curricula, graduates can sit for parts one and two of the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) and earn state licensure as physicians, which are often among the admissions requirements for continuing education in a residency program.
Success in medical school programs can also help ensure acceptance into an oncology fellowship later on, since some schools require physicians to submit their medical school transcripts or a Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) with their application materials.
Complete an Internal Medicine Residency
Internal medicine residencies generally last three years. During this time, residents complete coursework and clinical rotations where they learn to care for patients who are receiving treatment in hospitals, clinics and outpatient care facilities. Within these programs, it's benefit to participate in research symposia and conferences or complete special research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member. The ability to conduct research is often among the considerations for admission to an oncology fellowship program.
Submit Fellowship Application Materials
In addition to MSPEs and USMLE scores, required application materials for an oncology fellowship include between two and five letters of recommendation, some of which must be from residency program directors or medical school deans. A curriculum vitae and personal statement are among common application requirements. This documentation outlines applicants' educational qualifications, accomplishments, personal qualities and professional goals and introduces them to a program's selection committee. Consequently, these pieces should be clear, concise and written in such a way as to capture the reader's attention, especially where the personal statement is concerned.