Career Definition for an Oncology Assistant
An oncology assistant is a specialized type of medical assistant who helps treat patients who have cancer. Oncology assistants often have responsibilities that are both administrative and clinical. Common duties for an oncology assistant include taking patients' vital signs, recording patients' medical histories, explaining treatment protocols, updating and filing patient records, recording treatment, filling out insurance forms, preparing exam rooms, and collecting specimens.
|Education||Certificate or associate's degree in a medical field|
|Job Skills||Communication, math and computer proficiency, empathy, organization|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$30,590 (all medical assistants)|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||23% (all medical assistants)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The credentials required to become an oncology assistant vary by state, place of employment and the duties to be performed. You'll need to have your high school diploma or equivalent and complete a 1-year, certificate program or 2-year, associate's degree in a field like medical assisting. Relevant coursework for a career in oncology includes pharmacology, medical office procedures, insurance billing and coding, medical ethics, diagnostic procedures and medical software programs.
Oncology assistants work with patients who are seriously and sometimes terminally ill; they should be caring and empathetic. Basic math, office and computer skills will also help you succeed as an oncology assistant.
Employment and Career Outlook
The employment outlook for the career of medical assisting, into which falls the category of oncology assistants, is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, projected that employment in this field will grow 23% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than average for all occupations. According to the BLS, the median annual earnings for medical assistants was $$30,590 in 2015.
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Alternate Career Options
Individuals interested in medical assistance may consider similar occupations, including job titles nurse practitioner, pharmacy technician or dental assistant.
Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
Through completion of an educational program normally spanning at least a year, these nurses learn to provide patients with basic nursing care under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. A faster than average employment growth of 16% was forecast by the BLS for LPNs and LVNs during the 2014-2024 decade, and a median annual wage of $43,170 was reported in 2015.
These techs often secure employment with a high school diploma and learn their skills while on the job, although some complete postsecondary training programs. In states where pharmacy techs are regulated, aspiring techs may need to complete a formal program or pass a qualifying exam. Their work involves assisting licensed pharmacists in dispensing prescriptions to health professionals or customers. Per the BLS, they earned median wages of $30,410 per year as of 2015, and they could look forward to an average employment growth of 9% through 2024.
Education requirements vary from none to a formal program with a licensing exam, depending on the state of employment. Also depending on the state and employers' wishes, duties of dental assistants can vary and may include both administrative duties and clinical duties, such as taking x-rays and caring for patients. Dental assistants earned an annual median salary of $35,980 in 2015, according to the BLS. The demand for these assistants should remain strong throughout the 2014-2024 decade, and the BLS projected a 18% increase in available positions.