Resources for Medical Students

As the population of people with cancer, and survivors, continues to grow, oncologists and non-oncologists alike will encounter a growing population of patients seeking treatment. ASCO aims to support physician education to ensure that this growing patient population receives the highest quality of care. To achieve this goal, ASCO offers medical students free membership and access to numerous educational and training resources, such as the ASCO University Tumor Boards and ASCO University Exam Preparation.

What to Look for in a Residency Program

Ideally, you will find a residency that affords ample opportunity for hands-on clinical training. In addition, the ideal residency offers a supportive environment that allows and encourages continued learning and performance improvement.

Consider a program at a cancer center with well-developed multidisciplinary programs and specialists who focus on specific diseases. If you are interested in academics, you are encouraged to:

  • Find a program in which the oncologists are actively involved in clinical or translational research. This might allow you to participate in research studies during residency.
  • Explore taking time during medical school to participate in summer research programs. Or, you may even consider full-year research programs, such as those available at NCI.
  • Search ASCO's interactive listing of Fellowship Oncology Training Programs around the world.

Oncology: The Highest Stakes and the Greatest Rewards

No matter which area of medicine you are drawn to, there is an oncology specialty for you to consider:

  • Internal Medicine, subspecialty of Medical Oncology
  • Pediatrics, subspecialty of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
  • OB/GYN, subspecialty of Gynecologic Oncology
  • Radiation Oncology specialty
  • Surgery, specialization in Surgical Oncology
  • Urology, specialization in Urologic Oncology

The areas listed above range from specialties to subspecialties to specializations that don’t include a board examination. Depending on which area you pursue, training (including residency) will range from 5-8 years.

The Benefits of Entering the Field of Oncology 

  • Oncologists have the opportunity to be involved in relatively young but rapidly evolving specialties.
  • Oncologists have the chance to work in a field that continues to deliver new developments for patients.
  • Since oncology is the model of multidisciplinary care, oncologists play an increasing leadership role in managing the cancer research and care team.
  • Oncology blends important health care advances in a setting of committed oncology nurses, psychologists, and modality specialists. 
  • Oncologists have the opportunity to form the most intense, personal relationships with patients out of all the fields of medicine.

ASCO and Workforce Issues

ASCO published a report on the oncology workforce predicting that by 2020, the field would face a shortage of up to 4,100 oncologists. This shortage will be the result of:

  • An Aging population
  • Increased cancer survivorship

These two factors will increase the demand for oncology visits by 48%.

Oncology Practice Settings

Oncology can be practiced in three general arenas: academic practice, community practice, or practice in industry or government.

Academic Practice

Academic Practice is closely aligned with a university or medical school. These practices generally have three stated goals: education, research, and patient care. In their professional lives, academic physicians may emphasize one of these goals over the other two. However, they always endeavor to carry out the tripartite academic mission.

Community Practice

Community Practice generally refers to two kinds of practice: "private practice" and practice within large organizations whose primary goal is patient care. “Private practice” refers to job positions in which day-to-day care of patients is the primary occupation. It can include:

  • Multispecialty medical groups
  • Staff-model HMO's
  • Employment by government agencies (federal, state, county, or city) 

Industry or Government Practice

Industry or Government Practice is closely tied to the overall mission of the organization. Many industrial firms view their mission as similar to that of any academic organization—to perform research with the goal of expanding knowledge and creating new products. However, industrial firms tend to be organized to develop or support a commercial product. Physicians who practice in government generally work to develop or support the development of public policy. They accomplish this primarily through implementing or developing regulations, or by supporting lawmakers.

Random Quote

"ASCO is the world’s largest and arguably most influential oncology organization… a dynamic organization that not only is advancing the frontiers of research, providing outstanding educational opportunities, and defining standards of practice for clinical care, but also influencing public policy."
Anees Chagpar, MD
ASCO Member since 2003