Oncologists are medical professionals who specialize in treating cancer. They work an average of 57.6 hours per week and see an average of 52 outpatients per week. During the first appointment, the oncologist will spend time gathering information about the patient's health and may perform a physical exam even if the primary care doctor has already done so. Some additional tests may also be performed.
To determine what type of career is the best personal choice, each oncologist must identify their personal and professional goals. If the tests reveal signs of cancer, the primary care doctor may recommend that the patient visit an oncologist. Many young oncologists respond to this unexpected situation by returning to survival and hoping that things will improve when they are more established in practice. A medical oncologist's job is to care for cancer patients through the use of items such as chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
Clinical oncologists tend to focus on one or two types of cancer as they progress in their careers; however, there are no definite subspecialties in clinical oncology. Medical oncologists will work with clinical oncologists, nurse practitioners, and administrative staff, as well as surgical oncologists, radiologists , histopathologists, other health professionals and research professionals and other professions related to medicine. Medical oncologists also conduct inpatient evaluations and hold multidisciplinary team meetings, in addition to devoting part of their time to teaching and training functions. Surgical oncologists specialize in performing biopsies, in which tissue is removed for testing for cancer.
For some oncologists, professional goals are even more specific, such as caring for end-of-life patients or patients with a specific disease. The personal distress experienced by many oncologists also seems to influence the care they provide to patients. Evaluating one's goals and values and prioritizing personal and professional activities accordingly can help oncologists achieve success in both their personal and professional lives. Oncologists must earn a bachelor's degree and then complete four years of medical school to become a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (OD).
A team of oncologists often work together to treat patients with cancer. The first oncology consultation may last only a few hours.