Oncologist Degree Programs with Course Information

Learn about residency programs for oncologists. Get detailed admission requirements and find out how residencies work. Explore professional oncology certification options, and take a look at employment outlook and salary data relevant to the field.

Essential Information

Oncologists are medical doctors involved in the study, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. An oncologist degree is not earned, but aspiring oncologists who have already graduated from medical school can complete 4-year oncology residency programs in order to satisfy training requirements for this area of specialization.

Residents complete clinical rotations in the first half of their residency programs. During the second half, they focus on research and explore sub-specialties in oncology. Residents study carcinogens and malignancy in cells, blood, tissues and organs. They examine the anatomy and physiology of cancer cells as well as the genetics of cancer. The successful completion of an oncology residency program qualifies medical doctors to become board-certified oncologists.

Educational Prerequisites

A Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), which is earned after four years of medical school, is required for admittance into residency programs. Medical school applicants need an undergraduate degree in a science-related subject and acceptable MCAT scores. In addition to having an M.D., doctors must successfully complete an initial post-graduate year (PGY-1). During this year, they receive clinical training in an area such as internal medicine or surgery.

Program Coursework

Residents work closely with patients and conduct research to improve their clinical and research skills. Academic and clinical conferences occur regularly and are led by class faculty and residents. The rotation curriculum varies according to sub-specialty and may include:

  • Gynecological oncology: Residents study the treatment of cancer in women.
  • Medical oncology: Methods for ordering scans and diagnosing patients are covered.
  • Pediatric oncology: The focus is on treating children with cancer.
  • Radiology: Doctors learn how to use radiation treatment.
  • Surgical pathology: Surgical means of removing cancerous tissues and tumors are learned.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The job growth for physicians and surgeons was expected to increase by 24% by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Specialized doctors, such as oncologists, had especially good prospects. The BLS reported the mean annual salary for non-specialized surgeons and physicians as $184,820 in 2012.

Continuing Education Information

Oncologists become board certified by medical specialty boards, such as the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) or the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Certification involves passing written and oral exams. Due to ever-changing technology, re-certification is mandatory; the requirements vary by specialty.

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