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What does an Oncologist do?

Learn all about Oncologist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become an Oncologist.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

Oncologists are doctors who treat cancer.

Oncologist job duties include:

  • Conducts thorough physical examinations and medical histories on patients
  • Orders, performs, and interprets diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, and blood work
  • Makes referrals to other specialists when necessary
  • Designs treatment plans for cancer patients based on the stage and type of cancer
  • Administers chemotherapy and other treatments
  • Monitors patients for side effects and adjusts treatment plans accordingly
  • Provides emotional support to patients and their families
  • Educates patients and families about cancer and treatment options
  • Keeps up to date on the latest cancer research

Oncologist Job Requirements

An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. To become an oncologist, you must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school. After medical school, you must complete a three-year residency in oncology. Once you have completed your residency, you must obtain a license to practice medicine from your state's medical board. In addition, most oncologists are certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Board of Medical Oncology.

Oncologist Skills

  • Cancer
  • Tumors
  • Cells
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Hospitals
  • Patients
  • Genetics
  • Biology

Related: Top Oncologist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become an Oncologist

There are many different paths that one can take to become an oncologist. The most common route is to first complete an undergraduate degree, followed by a four-year medical degree, and then complete a three-year residency in oncology. Some oncologists may also choose to complete a fellowship, which can add an additional one to two years of training.

The first step in becoming an oncologist is to obtain an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Many oncologists choose to major in a science-related field, such as biology or chemistry, as this can help prepare them for the rigors of medical school. After completing a bachelor’s degree, students must then take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before being accepted into medical school.

Once accepted into medical school, students will complete four years of training, during which they will learn about the various aspects of medicine. During the final year of medical school, students will rotate through different specialties, including oncology, to gain experience in each area. After graduation from medical school, students must then complete a three-year residency in oncology before they can be certified by the American Board of Oncology.

Some oncologists may also choose to complete a fellowship after their residency, which can add an additional one to two years of training. Fellowships are typically completed at cancer centers and allow oncologists to receive specialized training in a particular area of interest, such as breast cancer or pediatric oncology.

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