Gynecologic Oncologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a gynecologic oncologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, licensure and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Gynecologic oncologists are physicians with specialized knowledge to diagnose and treat cancer of the female reproductive system. Working in this field requires significant education and specialized training.

Essential Information

Gynecologic oncologists evaluate and treat cancer found in the female reproductive system. They can perform surgery, prescribe therapy and are responsible for related medical procedures. Gynecologic oncologists require eight years of education and training beyond a bachelor's degree and must earn a license to practice. Board certification is also available in the specialty.

Required Education Prerequisite college courses (2-4 years)
Medical school (4 years)
Obstetrics & gynecology residency (4 years)
Gynecologic oncology fellowship (3-4 years)
Licensure & Certification Board certification available
State medical license required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% (for all types of physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2016) $243,317 (for all oncologists)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Payscale.com

Job Description for a Gynecologic Oncologist

Gynecologic oncologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in female reproductive organs. They're trained in a variety of diagnostic techniques and management procedures, such as surgery on reproductive organs, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. They can also perform medical procedures on non-reproductive organs affected by gynecologic cancer treatment such as the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.

Many oncology professionals work in private practices or clinics, but make regular rounds to their patients who are confined to hospitals. They can also teach in medical schools or perform research.

Duties of a Gynecologic Oncologist

Gynecologic oncologists perform physical evaluations and collect detailed medical histories. In addition to medical duties, they educate patients and their families on various forms of cancer, possible progression and treatment options. Diagnostic techniques that can be employed include staining, tissue sampling procedures and medical imaging.

After identifying normal cells, benign conditions and malignancies, gynecologic oncologists develop a plan for treatment and therapy. Therapy options might include treatment of the related effects of cancer, like shock or renal failure. They could also incorporate nutritional aspects and blood transfusions into a treatment plan. They typically manage nurses and administrative workers, maintain medical records and refer patients to other medical specialists as necessary.

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Requirements to Become a Gynecologic Oncologist

Education Requirements

Like other physicians, gynecologic oncologists must complete up to eight years of combined undergraduate and medical school education. They can earn either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. After graduation, they must complete a 4-year general residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Following residency, they could continue their residency or seek a fellowship opportunity in general oncology or gynecologic oncology, which generally take 3-4 years. In total, following high school, gynecologic oncologists have completed about 15 years of education.

Licensure and Certification

Once a general residency is complete, aspiring gynecologic oncologists must pass a national medical licensing examination to practice in any state. Though not required, board certification is available in general obstetrics and gynecology through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Board-certified physicians can then complete a 3-year residency or fellowship in gynecologic oncology to qualify for certification in the subspecialty. Both certification options require applicants to take written and oral examinations (www.abog.org).

Career Info for Gynecologic Oncologists

PayScale.com reported a median salary of $243,317 for all types of oncologists (cancer doctors) in 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an 14% increase in employment for all types of physicians throughout the 2014-2024 decade. Job prospects were expected to be best for those physicians specializing in ailments of the baby boomer population, which includes cancer.

Gynecologic oncologists must first complete medical school and residency. Residency would most likely include a specialty in OBGYN medicine and/or oncology. Then further training would be pursued in gynecologic oncology in the form of further residency or fellowship. This very specialized field of medicine includes diagnosing and treating patients, and a wide range of treatments may be included in this area of cancer medicine. Board certification can also be pursued by aspiring gynecologic oncologists.

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