Residency vs Fellowship Oncology

Mine is a two-pronged question.

First, what are the major differences between a residency and a fellowship?

Second, I am very interested in Oncology as my specialty. How many years of residency/fellowship to Oncologists generally train through before they can go out on there own? How many for Internal Medicine? Thanks a lot.

Residency is what you do after medical school and depending on your specialty choice will vary in length. Fellowships are advanced training to then subspecialize. For example, to become an oncologist you first have to do residency in internal medicine for 3 years and then apply for fellowship in oncology I think another 3 years.

Some fellowships in internal medicine are more competitive than others…cardiology and GI are very difficult to get into versus endocrine…

I see. Thank you very much that clears it up a great deal. I’m still not sure what I think I want to do, but oncology and hematology really interests me. I’m fascinated with the microscopic and love to learn anything and everything I can about it.

The other thing to remember, Medeirosaurus, is that when you actually begin your rotations, you may find other areas which interest you as much, or even more. So keep your mind open. There are many specialties and subspecialties that might interest you that you haven’t even thought about yet!

As Linda commented, your actual choice of specialty is going to be influenced a lot by your third year experiences; you may be surprised at what appeals to you when you immerse yourself in your clinical rotations.

That said, if you do find the field of hematology/oncology appealing, you’ll want to take genetics and cell biology courses in your preparation for med school. The field of heme/onc is increasingly wrapped up in genetics; it’s fascinating and quite complex and to be honest with you, it’s one of the things that convinced me that oncology wasn’t for me. I’m not one of those brainiac types.


Haha. I see. I’ve been interested in genetics since I was a sophmore in high school. Micro- and Molecular Biology are very interesting to me. But I will keep my mind open. I’ve got a loooong way to go, and I’m sure many things can change in such a time period. Thanks.