Oncologist Education and Training
Oncologists are physicians who study, diagnose, and treat cancerous tumors. They practice in hospitals and medical centers, university hospitals, and research organizations.
To become certified as an oncologist, a candidate must first graduate from an accredited medical school before entering into training as a specialist (e.g., internist, pediatrician) and subspecialist (e.g., medical oncologist, pediatric oncologist-hematologist). There are several oncology specialties and subspecialties:
- Gynecological oncology: The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) examines and certifies obstetricians and gynecologists who choose to acquire additional education and training to subspecialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the female reproductive organs (e.g., cervical cancer, breast cancer). See gynecologic oncologist for more information.
- Medical oncology: The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) examines and certifies internists who choose to acquire additional education and training to subspecialize in medical oncology, the use of medical and chemotherapeutic treatments of cancer.
- Medical oncology and hematology: The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) examines and certifies internists who choose to acquire additional education and training in the dual subspecialty of medical oncology and hematology (the treatment of malignancies of the blood and blood-forming tissues).
- Pediatric oncology and hematology: The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) examines and certifies pediatricians who choose to acquire additional education and training to subspecialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in children (e.g., leukemia).
- Radiation oncology: The American Board of Radiology (ABR) examines and certifies radiation oncologists, who specialize in radiation treatment of cancers.
- Surgical oncology: The American Board of Surgery (ABS) examines and certifies surgeons who are trained in several types of surgical treatments, including biopsy, tumor staging, and tumor resection (removal).
Oncologist Board Certification?
The board certification process includes the following components:
Candidates must have graduated from an approved medical school and must have completed an ACGME accredited residency program. Graduate education in a specialty and, if the physician chooses, a subspecialty follows.
After satisfactory completion of graduate education in a specialty, physicians may apply for certification. Applicants must pass the certifying examination administered by the medical specialty board. If they go on to receive additional education and training in a subspecialty (e.g., pediatric oncology and hematology), they must complete the education and training requirements and then apply for certification and pass the examination administered by the medical specialty board.
To obtain detailed information regarding the educational requirements and certification processes for the various oncology specialties and subspecialties, visit the websites of the medical specialty boards listed below: