Requirements to Become a Pediatric Oncologist: Degrees & Training

A pediatric oncologist is a physician that specializes in treating children and teenagers who suffer from cancer. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements and training for this role. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Pediatric oncology is a discipline that is life-changing and rewarding. Pediatric oncologists are specially trained to provide cancer treatment for children. A brief overview of the requirement to become a pediatric oncologist is listed below in the table.

Education and Training Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), residency in pediatrics and fellowship in pediatric oncology
Certification and Licensure License required, certification in general pediatrics
Key Responsibilities Create treatment plans, record medical history, address concerns, request necessary tests, interpret results, educate patients and family about the ideal way of providing treatment
Key Skills Compassion, patience, dexterity, good listening skills, affinity with children, problem solving skills, eye for detail
Salary (2019) $144,828*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% (all physicians and surgeons)**

Sources: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is a Pediatric Oncologist?

A pediatric oncologist is a specialist doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat cancers that are specific to children and teenagers. Cancers that occur in children and adolescents are rare and require a bespoke approach. These pediatricians must be able to have a good rapport and a natural affinity with children and infants to be successful in this field.

What Do Pediatric Oncologists Do?

Pediatric oncologists diagnose patients and design treatment plans, which may include suggesting chemotherapy - a medicine that aims to destroy cancer cells or any other treatments. They will monitor and treat the patient from diagnosis to the end of treatment. A pediatric oncologist will also provide education to the patient and family on what to do during and following treatment. Pediatric oncologists are also involved in research, and because of the scientific advancement in the field, they often teach at medical schools, in addition to treating patients.

What Do I Need to Study to Become a Pediatric Oncologist?

To become a pediatric oncologist you will need to have graduated from medical school. Most students applying for medical school would have graduated with a 4-year bachelor's degree. Medical schools are competitive, and most applicants typically study biology, chemistry and related courses for their undergraduate program and obtain high scores for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

What Type of Training and Licensure Do I Need to Be a Pediatric Oncologist?

After completion of medical school, medics must undertake a residency and fellowship. An M.D. would need to request specifically a pediatric residency program, which generally takes 3 years to complete. Following the residency program a pediatrician would need to become board certified with the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and complete a fellowship in pediatric oncology, which would take approximately 3 more years. This is where you will learn state-of-the-art techniques to treat patients, such as precision medicine and genomic sequencing. Licensure is required in every state, however licensure requirements are dependent on each state. An M.D. is required to take the national exam called the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

How Much Do Pediatric Oncologists Earn?

Payscale.com reported that pediatric oncologists had a median annual salary of $144,828 in 2019. The BLS does not break down data for this specific career, but lists the average annual salary of general pediatricians in 2017 at $187,540. The career outlook for doctors and surgeons is good, with an expected 13% rise in the number of jobs between 2016 to 2026, which is much higher than the average growth that is expected of all occupations.

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