Physicians are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients, doing physical examinations and using different imaging tools such as x-rays or CAT scans to determine the best treatment for each patient.
Oncology is a common subspecialty medical practice which includes a broad scope of physicians that treat patients with cancer. Some of the type of physicians who practice in this area include medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic surgeons, and pathologists. In order to specialize in one of the fields, more years of training are required. Physicians are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients, doing physical examinations and using different imaging tools such as x-rays or CAT scans to determine the best treatment for each patient. Some treatment approaches may include surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It is important for physicians to build a strong rapport between themselves and the patient. Many physicians also conduct research in hopes of finding new methods of treating cancer patients.
Where You Work
Many of these physicians work in hospitals, medical centers and cancer centers. They may have their own private practices. Pathologists mainly work in medical labs at hospitals but they work closely with physicians in diagnosing patients. As a team, oncologists come up with a good treatment plan for each patient.
How You Help
A physician plays an important role to help cancer patients. Oncologists are cancer specialists who assist the patient every step of the way. They perform physical examinations and administer treatment drugs. They work closely with the pathologist who helps in diagnosing the cancer by examining the tumor to determine the stage of the cancer. They write up detailed reports which help the oncologist in figuring out the best course of action which may include surgery, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. Surgeons help in the removal of a tumor and sometimes reconstruction in cases like breast cancer. Some patients may require a mastectomy which is the removal of an entire breast. A plastic surgeon’s job would be to help in reconstruction of the breast to return it to the original state.
Helpful High School Courses
- Advanced math
- Foreign language
- Health Classes
Skills to Build
- Good communication skills
- Able to collaborate and work with other physicians and health care professionals
- Research skills (if running clinical trials or a research laboratory)
- Very well paid profession
- Job prospects are high
- Hands on work
- Rigorous job and requires over 10 years of study
- Must deal with death or dying
- Devote many hours to the job, sometimes at odd hours of the night
- Growing administrative duties
Education You Need
A Bachelor’s Degree and a Doctorate of Medicine (M.D.) which usually takes 8 years to complete. After medical school you must complete a residency of about 5 years. If you want to specialize in a certain type of oncology, pathology or surgery, additional years of training called fellowships are required. All doctors must pass proficiency exams known as boards and be licensed in the state in which they work.
A Day in the Life
A Day in the Life
8:00Meet with multidisciplinary oncology team to discuss a list of patients with challenging issues
9:00Review files and patient records
9:30Meet with patients; perform physical exams; discussion treatment options with patients
12:00Perform surgery; chart patient records
4:00Review lab and scan results; document and call patient with results and consult other physicians
5:00See post-operative patients
Average Annual Salary Range
- Medical Oncologist is $222,809-$351,598*
- Radiation Oncologist is $319,266-$430,674*
- Pathologist is $212,917-$297,991*
- Radiologist is $325,544-$433,019*
- Surgeon is $300,945-$422,350*
- Plastic Surgeon is $297,304-$441,141*
* Actual salary dependent on education, experience, location, and other variables