Health workers with certified oncology qualifications have advanced training and experience which enable them to treat patients afflicted with cancer. Both physicians and nurses can receive oncology certification. Oncologists often operate in speciality or sub-speciality fields like gynaecological oncology, paediatric oncology, surgical oncology or radiation oncology. As there are so many fields in oncology, there are different paths you could follow to obtain a certified oncology qualification.
Be prepared for a long educational road if you are planning to become a qualified oncologist. Take math and science while in high school and obtain a Bachelor of Science degree. If you already have a Bachelor of Arts degree, check the requirements of the medical school you want to apply at, as some programs will accept BA graduates. Complete your four years of medical school and a year of internship before applying for residency graduate education. During the residency program, which lasts four years, you will specialise in one of the three main branches of oncology and take the certification examination. The three main branches in oncology are medical oncology, focusing on medications such as chemotherapy to treat cancer; surgical oncology which focuses on tumour removal and other surgical procedures related to cancer treatment, and radiation oncology which utilises radiation therapy as a form of cancer treatment. All oncologists have to be board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Oncology Certified Nurse
Nurses can also specialise in oncology by obtaining oncology certified nurse qualifications. The training prepares the nurse to specialise in treating cancer patients. Several oncology nursing qualifications can be obtained through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. You can become a Oncology Certified Nurse, a Certified Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse, or a Certified Breast Care Nurse. To qualify for these training courses you need to have a Registered Nurse license and a certain amount of supervised working experience in the specific field you are trying to specialise in. Experience usually include having worked as a Registered Nurse for over a year and having between 500-1000 hours supervised practical experience in the specialisation field.
Oncology Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist
The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation also qualifies nurse practitioners and clinical nurses to specialise in oncology in their respective fields. To obtain the Oncology Nurse Practitioner or Oncology Clinical Nurse qualification, you need to have a master's or higher degree in nursing from a qualifying institution. You need to have a Registered Nurse license and complete a minimum of 1000 hours supervised practical work in your specialist field.