Becoming a radiation oncologist is a great decision. This article seeks to guide you on how to become a radiation oncologist and also provides you with some information about the job profile and career prospects!

How To Become a Radiation Oncologist

Oncology is a branch of medicine which deals with the study and treatment of cancer. Radiation Oncology deals with radiation therapy for cancers. A radiation oncologist is usually a part of multi–disciplinary cancer treatment team which usually consists of a surgical oncologist specialized for tumor excision, internal medicine specialist and a medical oncologist who perform chemotherapy. In some countries, both radiation therapy and chemotherapy are performed by the same person who is known as clinical oncologist. Radiation oncologist can find jobs in hospitals and radiation clinics. Some therapists work for more than one hospital in definite time schedules to render services to maximum patients. Some specialists find their interest in academic medicine. It is a challenging job as a radiation oncologist deals with the health and life of patients and there is no space for errors. Wish to know more? Learn more about career prospects and job profiles of a radiation oncologist through this article!
Becoming A Radiation Oncologist
People opting for this field must have a pre-medical or biology major course followed by a completely residential 4 year graduation in medicine. However, a medical degree is only a basic qualification. To specialize further in this field, advanced education is necessary in form of specialised post–graduate courses in radiation oncology. You may also register for a Ph.D. program to get a more detailed knowledge of the subject. Some countries also require specific certification in the specialized area before letting anyone become a registered medical practitioner. In this case, specialized oncologist has to appear for certification exam as per the norms of the country before starting medical practice.
  • Master of Medical Radiations (Radiation therapy)
  • Radiation Therapy Degree/Diploma program
  • Bachelor of Medical Technology (Radio Therapy)
  • DM (Medical Oncology)
  • MD (Radio Therapy)   
Skills required
  • In-depth knowledge in radiotherapy techniques and general medicine
  • Skill to decide accurate treatment plan and identify the side effects
  • Calm temperament
  • Patience
  • Strong learning skills
  • Adaptation skills
  • Strong scientific bent and practical skill
  • Ability to make fast pace logical decisions
  • Willingness to work round the clock, round the year
  • Willingness to work as a team
  • Strong communication and counseling skills
Roles and Responsibilities
  • Develop treatment plan for the cancer patients: A radiologist has to study the medical reports of a patient and develop a treatment plan according to the type of cancer and medical background of the patient.
  • Ensure accurate and effective treatment along with quality care: The treatment plan should be made only after prior discussions with the team members so that it doesn’t interfere with other treatment measures like excision of tumor, chemotherapy etc.
  • Monitor the progress and restructure the treatment accordingly: It is essential to trace the progress of the treatment by scheduling different sittings. The treatment plan should be designed accordingly.
  • Identify the side effects of radio therapy and provide adequate treatment for that: Radiation therapy induces side effects in patients and these side effects may be different for different patients. A radiation oncologist is expected to understand all the possible side effects and safeguard the patient accordingly.
  • Study various radiographic reports: This is essential to deliver effective treatment measures.
  • Preparing customized shielding and electron cutouts is to study dosimetric uncertainties is also an important part of an oncologist’s profile.
Career Prospects

Medical science is growing fast and each specialization has its own importance. Radiation therapy is widely used for curative and palliative measures in cancer treatment. Considering the unfortunate upsurge of cancer cases in the world, radiation specialists are in great demand nowadays. Radiation oncologists often work for oncology departments of hospitals. But they can also work as professors in radiology for the oncology or radiology departments of colleges and universities. They can continue their studies or research in this discipline as research scientists are also hot-property in private as well as public sectors. Remuneration of a radiation oncologist depends upon various factors like qualification, years of experience, location, responsibilities and reputation etc.

There are around 250 types of cancers and almost all of them require radiation therapy. The treatment plan differs according to the nature of cancer and the nature of the patient as well and deciding what to administer and to whom is the most challenging part of this job.

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