The field of medicine is as vast it can get. With new technology and cutting edge research, there are more and more methods and discipline that are introduced to cure diseases. One such field is that of cancer. Most of these are found and categorized, with the cure and treatment methods devised to make the patient better. One such area, which has been finding a major spot in terms of getting the patient back on track is Psycho-Oncology.
Psycho-Oncology is the field of study that deals with the lifestyle, psychology, and oncology on the whole. It deals with aspects of cancer treatment, beyond the regular norms of medicines and chemotherapy, and focuses on the lifestyle and social aspects of the cancer patient, while focusing on how cancer affects the psychological condition of the patient. It mainly focuses on the effects of the disease, and the condition of the patient while going through cancer and the treatment, and how their close ones, friends, family or caretakers deal with them. There are many specialties in Psycho-Oncology:
- Palliative care
- Rehabilitation medicine
- Clinical trials research
What will you be doing?
The most important area of focus in psycho-oncology will be to help the patients and their families to survive through the difficult times. While doing so, one has to make sure that there is due respect given to the patient.
- Proper care and help must be provided and their state of mind must be understood.
- Dealing with the symptoms and side-effects of the treatment methods, accepting the illness, in the case of the old and children handling the distress, memory and language training.
- Managing of sexuality and body image concerns, managing the loss and grief and behavioral pain will also have to be taken care of.
- Psycho-oncology requires a high amount of seriousness and professionalism while dealing with the patients.
How to become a psycho-oncologist?
Just like any other area of medicine and care, psycho-oncology requires an aspirant to have the sense to be empathetic and care for the ill. A base in science is required, as the career revolves the illness of cancer and the treatment of the same. Even though one is planning to take up a degree in psychology and then follow into psycho-oncology, they will have to do a course to be able to understand cancer and how it will an effect on the psychological condition of the person.
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There are various ways that an aspiring psycho-oncologists can take-
- A student can take up the science stream in class XII, and go for MBBS.
- After which they will have to do a house surgency course following which they can take up a postgraduate course, M.D in Psychiatry. By following this path, they will be certified medical doctors.
- After this, the student can take up a post-doctoral degree in Psycho-oncology. It is recommended to do an internship in a psycho-oncology center before they go for their Ph.D.
If someone is interested in nursing and psycho-oncology then they should take up B.Sc nursing right after their XII board examination and follow the B.sc with an MSc in Nursing and then take up a fellowship or certification program.
For BA Psychology Graduates
Another career opportunity that one can take up is to take a BA in Psychology, following which they can do an MSc or an MA in psychology and get a fellowship program from a psycho-oncology center.
One can follow up Psycho-oncology for a Doctor of Philosophy ( P.hD) but they will need M. Phil Psychology or M.Sc/MA Psychology with a 1-year diploma in Psycho-oncology and will have to qualify the Net exam.
Any Healthcare or cancer care provider can take up an internship with a focus on observation of the conduct and treatment to know more about the field of psycho-oncology.
How much will you be earning?
A field like psycho-oncology generally involves an increase in the pay with the advance in experience and knowledge. As a psycho-oncologist, the average pay that one will receive is $58, 412 in the US.
As a career, psycho-oncology is a very novel option in India. With education centers like Center of Psycho-oncology for Education and Research(COPER) coming up and creating more awareness and providing opportunities, we can expect a growth in this field.
Institutes that offer courses in Psycho-oncology
- Centre of Psycho-oncology for Education and Research: COPER, Bangalore
- Cancer Institute (WIA), Chennai
- Cancer Patients Aid Association, Bengaluru ( 3-day Volunteers Training Program)
Institutes that offer courses in Psycho-oncology around the world
- University of Southampton, US
- McGill University, Canada
- American Society of Clinical Oncology, USA