Training in clinical oncology



when you're a junior doctor especially as a medical student or a foundation year doctor I think it's easy to get a very pessimistic view of what oncology involves most of the time you're looking after inpatients and these are either people who've been newly diagnosed or often at the end of their life what people don't realize is that a lot of oncology is outpatient based most of the time you're seeing people who are well who are at home who are just coming for their routine follow-up and who you get to know over time a good way to try and experience this is to try and do a taste a week and spend some time in your outpatient oncology clinic if you have one at your hospital you'll see that with oncology patients you get to see them often over months or many years and build up a relationship with these patients which gives an excellent holistic view of oncology the thing that said foretelling for oncology apart from medical oncology is that we deliver radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy is is high-energy x-rays used to kill cancer the the good thing about doing that from a career point of view is that it provides you with a skill that's separate from our normal face-to-face patient contact have also protected time that you sit and exercise something that really is a hands-on skill and involves liaison with physicists and radiographers and to provide you with something different from the rest of your job the the issue about radiotherapy that put some people off is the physics component so you do need to have an understanding of the physics related to radiotherapy and but this is something that's taught really well and as part of the courses that run across the country when you refer to your registrar so and I certainly am NOT a natural physics head and it's something that actually I haven't found as challenges and I thought it would be Clinical Oncology is a very research driven specialty which for us as trainees means that there are a wide variety of research opportunities available to us during our training there are different areas that we can get involved in anything from clinical trials through technical radiotherapy epidemiology lab biology or medical education they're also a lot of funding opportunities which because of the high profile of cancer aren't available to many other specialties within that research environment you get the chance to translate scientific discoveries into real patient benefits and also to be part of global oncology community and share ideas your introduction to chemotherapy might seem daunting but remember you are already encountering chemotherapy and cancer whether it's neutropenic sepsis on the AME wards or nausea and vomiting and pneumonitis on the general medical take you will be surprised at how much you already know and what's particularly enjoyable is the relationships you build with people so analogous to the renal physicians and their dialysis unit we have our chemotherapy day unit you get to know the staff you get to see the patients sometimes reviewing them week in and week out and that's a familiarity that's almost lacking in many other specialties the and the satisfy thing about radiotherapy from my point of view is using it very radically and politically so it's really important and can be used as part of curing patients in 50% of patients in the UK and but what I think is more satisfying and Lynn's visual level is when you've got somebody in front of you with for example pain and you can use radiotherapy as a very effective treatment to deal with their pain with really a minimum of side-effects as most people watching this video will be aware medical training is hard there is a steep learning curve and this is true of specialty training in the way that has been through all stages of your training what I would say a real positive about Clinical Oncology is that there is a recognition through that process of the importance of setting aside time to develop research and evaluation skills that are going to make you more effective clinician in the future and help push boundaries for patients I find that clinic oncology is a really satisfying career it's challenging but it's emotionally very satisfying as well as intellectually satisfying with all the skills and their new technology that comes through and you really feel part of a team both with nurses and and surgeons and radiologists but but also oncology consultants and registrar's very supportive of each other and you feel well looked after and valued as even as a junior member of the team in addition and the importance of your life outside oncology is recognized and it's something that certainly I've found it's a very well accepted to work part-time it doesn't affect your career prospects and you're able to serve for example do research part-time work as a consultant part-time and there's plenty of role models within oncology to support flexible working and the importance of having a family and if you have an interest in the biology of cancer then clinical oncology effortlessly mixes the two and that's the pharmacology and the communication skills that you see both in your academics or in the clinic so get involved with the taste of weeks keep your eyes out during your CMT training cancer and chemotherapy are already very much part of your working lives just go on and apply

1 comment

  1. Thank you very much for enlightening us with the field of Clinical Oncology. I am a final year medical student and strongly considering Oncology as a possible future career.

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