By Jennifer Larson, contributor Mar 01, 2021
Cancer Prevention Month draws to a close, it’s worth taking some time to
acknowledge the considerable contributions of the physicians who have devoted
their careers to cancer prevention, treatment and research.
If you are one who has chosen a career in medical oncology, surgical
oncology, radiation oncology or a related field like pathology, you may be
grateful for the opportunities afforded to you. You work with patients at a
particularly vulnerable time in their lives, and it can be emotionally
demanding. But it can also be incredibly meaningful.
“I feel pretty lucky to do what I do,” said Joseph Uberti, MD, PhD, a
hematologist-oncologist with the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. “It was
the right profession for me to go into.”
Celina Nadelman, MD, a cytopathologist in Los Angeles who specializes in fine need
aspiration, expressed similar feelings.
“The field is exciting, and the work is rewarding, knowing that you can
save lives or improve lives,” she said.
Of course, working with cancer patients can be challenging at times. Oncologists
do lose patients. Cancer hasn’t been conquered. But improvements are happening
all the time, and physicians may have the chance to develop a new treatment or
offer one that makes a tremendous difference in a patient’s life.
Find locum tenens oncology assignments
across the U.S.
Demand for oncologists expected
to exceed the supply
There could be a shortage of more than 2,200 oncologists by the year 2025,
according to recent evaluations
by the healthcare consulting division at PYA. America’s population is
aging, and the risk of cancer increases with age, creating more demand for
As Uberti notes, “Patients are living longer, and patients are living
longer with cancer,” which also drives the need for more specialists to provide
care over their lifetimes. Add in the expected increase in physician
retirements, and the situation worsens.
One particular oncology subspecialist is expected to be in short supply:
hematologist-oncologists, the physicians who diagnose and treat blood cancers. The
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) reports that about 12,100
physicians were practicing in the arena of adult hematology-oncology in 2016,
but the demand is expected to increase.
A 2019 study
in Blood Advances predicted that
the demand for adult hematologists in the United States would soon exceed the
existing supply, and the researchers called for further study of the hematology
“In our current era of a growing shortage of adult hematologists to
care for patients with complex medical conditions and to train the next
generation of young hematologists, the time is ripe to ask critical questions
to address these problems,” they wrote.
Oncology opportunities abound
Whether physicians prefer a locum tenens job in
oncology or a permanent position, they should find an array of job
opportunities open to them in the future. Compensation is also trending upward
for this profession.
Plus, the field of oncology is evolving,
opening up more ways that physicians can make a difference for their patients.
“Although challenging, there is
so much potential for growth,” said Nadelman. “The potential for growth in the
field is limitless, as better and more treatment options are published in the
literature and manufactured by drug companies.”
In recent years, tremendous
amounts of research have furthered scientists’ understanding of cancer and
driven the field forward, said Uberti. Oncologists now have many more tools,
including immunotherapies, to effectively fight cancer and extend people’s
“And that’s what really makes it
an exciting field,” he added. “That’s what still motivates me today.”
STAFF CARE, an AMN Healthcare company, has an array of locum tenens oncology and
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