Pediatric Oncology

Pediatric Oncology

Pediatric oncology is the field of medicine which specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and tumors in children. It is a sub-specialty of pediatrics, so for those who want to have a career in pediatric oncology, they must first have the proper training in basic pediatrics which is complemented by further training in oncology.

Extensive training allows doctors in this field to understand how cancer develops and affects children in a way that is often completely different than with adults. The job is crucial in the elimination and understanding of cancer, and it is also important that the doctors are good communicators as they have to work with a team of other healthcare providers as well as keep in communication with families of the patient.

Job description

Pediatric oncology deals with children usually under the age of 18 who are suffering from cancer or tumors. Some children are prone to cancers which develop in early childhood such as leukemia, bone tumors, lymphomas, and others which require the dedication of a doctor that specializes in these conditions. Pediatric oncology is the medical field which has the expertise and ability to conduct diagnosis, perform surgical treatments, and relieve the patient of any side effects concerned with their illness.

For effective treatment, pediatric oncology requires teamwork with other healthcare providers and families of patients to create a comprehensive medical history for the patient and to provide the best possible medical care available. The work is composed of conducting physical exams such as x-rays, biopsies, and interpretation of test results to families of the patients.

Pediatric oncology also involves communication with parents and families regarding the condition of their children. These doctors are responsible for relaying sensitive information about the condition, presenting treatment options, and discussing any possible side effects of treatment to the patient. One of the most important aspects of the job is to counsel families on ways to cope with their child’s illness.

Common pediatric oncology duties include:

  • Consultation with patients and their families to discuss possible methods of treatment and their alternatives
  • Gather complete information through medical history
  • Conduct complete physical exams such as biopsies, x-rays, blood tests, and interpreting these results
  • Creating a comprehensive medical record with charts, case notes, test results
  • Keep informed with the latest research and developments in the field of pediatric oncology through seminars, conferences, and trainings
  • Conduct treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation of localized cancers
  • Relieve the patient of the side effects and pain caused by the cancer and its treatment

Employment in pediatric oncology may involve research in the field, and employment by hospitals and other healthcare facilities. However, those who complete the proper training may also choose to go into private pediatric oncology practice. Those who are employed by healthcare facilities may have more structured work hours than those that do private practice.

Education

Pediatric Oncology

Those interested in a career in pediatric oncology have to compete four years of undergraduate school with a major in science or medicine. For one to be accepted into medical school, they need to submit transcripts as well as results of entrance exams and recommendation letters, as entry is quite competitive. Results from the Medical College Admissions Test should also be submitted. Of the four years of medical school, the first two years involve classroom and lab education and the latter two years consist of internships or working under other doctors outside the classroom.

A license is required by all states to practice pediatric oncology. Those who graduate from school are required to pass the US Medical Licensing Exam, and those who intend to specialize in pediatrics should take up another three years conducting pediatric residency or an internship. These are part of the requirements of the American Board of Pediatrics which everyone has to complete before they can apply to be board certified in pediatric oncology.

A fellowship in oncology is required to attain a career in pediatric oncology, which takes around 3 years. These are offered in numerous institutions such as academic medical centers and children’s hospitals around the country. The fellowship consists of intensive training and research, laboratory work and hands-on care. They work under the supervision of accomplished doctors, so the knowledge gained from a fellowship certainly goes a long way.

Once a fellowship has been completed, aspiring pediatric oncologists can take an exam which is offered by the American Board of Pediatrics to certify them in either oncology or hematology. These recognitions are important in providing credibility to one’s career. Separate licenses are required for those who wish to have other sub-specialties.

Employment Outlook

A pediatric oncologist who displays excellent communication and management skills can quickly advance to the top positions in management or supervising in health networks. For those who prefer to be entrepreneurial doctors, they can grow their staff depending on the work needed.

The job demand for pediatric oncologists is expected to grow at least 15% over the next ten years, which makes it amongst the highest of all occupations. There is also a growing need for pediatric oncology workers who are familiar with the new technologies being developed for this particular medical field.

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