Apr 9, 2010
Medical Student
The other threads are outdated or have posts suggesting that they know someone/family member or an MSIV who shadowed an oncologist, etc....

Just wanting to get some insight on the lifestyle of an Oncologist. How many hours a week do you work? How many hours are dedicated to research? Lastly, what is the average expected compensation for someone starting out in academics who devotes a good amount of time into lab work? etc.

I'm very interested in Oncology and that was my goal since before entering medical school. But clinically, outpatient Oncology seemed pretty boring since the doc just did a quick ROS on patient after patient. I would still be interested in the field if research was involved, but I was given some advise to be careful since it is very hard to integrate lab research into the inpatient setting and I must be willing to take a major salary hit (would also be hard conducting lab research without a PhD I'm assuming).

Thanks for the info


No Meat, No Treat
Staff member
10+ Year Member
Mar 6, 2005
Attending Physician
So...how many publications do you have at this point? If the answer is 0, the likelihood of you having a lab based career approaches zero (note that it's not actually 0...just really damn close). That's reality. I have a PhD, a dozen or so pubs and my lab career was a total bust. You may be an exception, but it's unlikely.

Now, what do you want to do with your life? Do you want to treat cancer patients and be involved in clinical research, either as a PI on studies you create yourself or as a co-investigator? Well, oncology may be for you.

Lifestyle and salary are both hugely variable. I personally work 3 days a week, have 2 of my own clinical protocols but work in a hybrid PP/academic setting and make 10% more than I would if I worked 5 days a week at the U across town (note that I actually work for the U, just not at the U).

So, decide what you want to be when you grow up and pursue it.
Oct 28, 2009
Post Doc
Did you ever consider pathology?

Also, I think my ideal job would be working for a private group that brings cutting edge resources to bear on individual cancer treatments - exome sequencing cancer vs. surrounding tissue, purifying and mass spec analysis of MHC Class I antigens presented by tumor cells to validate exome differences, and therapies that are specific for the mutation and presentation of the patients individual cancer instead of trying population based medical techniques. Does this place exist/could it exist?

Thanks for any input.

-2nd year med student