The first question that pops up in the minds of aspiring oncologists is: How long does it take to become an oncologist? It is human nature to want instant results; however, oncology is challenging. It is difficult and tiresome and takes more than a decade of intensive studying and training to become an oncologist.
For your help, I have compiled a lot of information about this internal medicine area. In fact, I am about to explain the entire order of the series of steps that you will have to take to become a certified practicing oncologist. So, keep reading below for complete and accurate facts and details.
What Is Oncology?
Let me explain briefly for those of you who still need clarification about what oncology is and the primary role of an oncologist in medicine. Oncology is the study of cancer-related conditions and problems. Oncologists are the experts in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancers and tumors.
Duration To Become An Oncologist
The journey of an oncologist is very long and tiresome. You will face a myriad of challenges at every step of the way. There will be times when you will feel so exhausted and frustrated that you will want to give up everything and move on to a different field.
But hard work and consistency always pay off and trust me, the results are absolutely worth the effort you put into this journey. Let’s get down to the exact details of what you will have to do to become an oncologist.
But before we start, let me give a gist of what will come your way. To become an oncologist, you will have to study for thirteen to fourteen years after high school. You must take four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, an internal medicine residency for three years, and a few years of oncology fellowship.
Other than that, you will also have to pass various exams in order to become a verified oncologist. These exams include the SAT, MCAT, USMLE, and so on. If you would like more details, please keep on reading down below.
Four Years Of Undergraduate Studies
Taking an undergraduate course is the first step in becoming an oncologist. However, in order to secure a place in an undergraduate course at a reputable institute, you will have to do your best in the SATs.
The minimum course requirement for an undergraduate program to become an oncologist is four years. You will be required to study Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English, and other General education subjects. You could also choose other subjects, but these are mandatory.
Four Years Of Medical School
Now that you are done with your undergraduate studies, it is time to start medical school. However, you must score high on the MCAT exam to get accepted into a medical school. This entrance exam tests your knowledge in four key subjects: Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Psychology.
The higher you score on the MCAT, the greater your chances of getting accepted into top-tier medical schools in the States. In medical school, you must complete academic and clinical training for at least four years. You will take classes in Physiology, Anatomy, Pharmacology, and many other relevant medical fields.
In addition to that, you will also have to get hands-on experience by working in clinics and hospitals on rotation so that you can maximize your exposure and learn diverse things. These four years at the medical school are going to be very tough for you, but you will learn invaluable things that will pave the way for you to become a successful oncologist.
Three Years Of Internal Medicine Residency
To become an oncologist, it is imperative that you do an internal medicine residency. However, in order to get an internal medicine residency, you will have to take USMLE 1 and 2 exams. These exams are mandatory for you to pass in order to qualify for residency.
The difficulty level of these exams is high, and you will have to do proper preparation before taking these exams. The USMLE exams will test your knowledge of clinical residency. You will have to be highly vigilant during these exams because their testing level is beyond difficult.
In any case, once you get yourselves into a residency program, you will have to complete your training for a minimum of three years. During this residency, you will learn about general medical conditions and diseases. You won’t learn or experience too much about oncology, but this residency will prove to be a stepping step in your specialization.
Internal Medicine Board Exam
Once you have completed three years of internal medicine residency, you become eligible to take the internal medicine board exam. After clearing this exam, you will become a board-certified internist as per the American Board of Internal Medicine regulations.
This is the part where you will actually learn how to prevent, treat, and manage oncological disorders. You will learn everything about oncology, including treatments, medications, and technical problems related to this particular field. In short, this is the part where you will specialize in oncology and oncological conditions and be able to treat patients suffering from such conditions.
You will also receive specialized training and do clinical research on oncological conditions. You will have to complete at least two or three years of fellowship in oncology to become eligible for the medicine board examination in oncology. By the end of it, you will become a board-certified oncologist.
Licensing Plus Board Certification
Now that you have completed your oncology fellowship, you can start your own practice. However, to start your own practice, you will have to apply for a medical license.
Furthermore, you will also have to decide which kind of oncologist you want to become and then pass the board exam in that specific area of oncology. You may pass more than one board exam to become an oncologist in various regions and be able to treat multiple oncological problems simultaneously.
Passing the board exams is optional; you can still practice oncology without this certification. However, almost all employers require a certificate in board examinations while hiring new oncologists. So, you will have to pass this exam if you want to land a decent job at a reputable institute.
How to become a practicing oncologist in the United States?
Becoming a practicing oncologist in the United States is a very tough and grueling process. You will have to pass a plethora of exams and dedicate fourteen to fifteen years of your life to this field of medicine. And even then, you can only be sure whether you will be successful in the future if you are a very driven person passionate about oncological conditions.
Do oncologists make a lot of money?
Yes, oncology is among the highest-paying professions in the United States. In fact, an average practicing oncologist earns up to 400,000 USD per annum. The more skillful an oncologist is, the higher he will make every month.
How long is an oncology fellowship?
The oncology fellowship is about two years long without certification. However, if you need a certificate in the subspecialties of oncology, then you will have to practice for another year. So, it will become a total of three years of fellowship in oncology.
So, that was all the information I could gather about the time it takes to become an oncologist and all the courses and exams you will have to pass in this process. In fact, I would like to offer my heartiest regards to my brother, Steven Perkins, who is currently pursuing the field of oncology. He was very elaborate in sharing his personal experience with me.
And so, he is the reason I was able to write this detailed article for you. In any case, if you are considering specializing in oncology, go through this entire article at least once more so that you will be crystal clear about all the stages you will have to pass through to become a certified oncologist.