Health Service Categories and Careers


Medical Oncology is concerned with the investigation, diagnosis, management and treatment of benign and malignant growths, tumours, cancers and diseases. It is a subspeciality of Internal Medicine and is underpinned by broad clinical experience in caring for both acute medical problems and chronic illness. Clinical work can involve the full spectrum of cancers, or provide opportunity for subspecialisation, which may relate to tumour type or research area of interest. Practice involves specialised diagnostic investigations, preventative medicine, symptom control, surgery, palliative care and the application of medications and treatments of cancer, such as chemotherapy, hormones, analgesics and molecular targeting agents, with many more treatments in development. This field of medicine involves a large research component with research opportunities in oncology, laboratory medicine, clinical trials, cancer epidemiology, pharmacology, and hereditary cancer. Future challenges in this area of medicine include workforce shortages and an increasing prevalence of cancer in society. Resources for cancer drug research, evidence-based clinical trials, data collection and training opportunities need to be accessible and can be impacted by privatisation, commercialisation and drug regulation. Medical oncology services are provided by multi-disciplinary teams in public hospitals and private practices which often combine medical oncology and radiation departments and provide both inpatient and outpatient services.

Oncology (Medical) Jobs

Oncologists are physicians who diagnose and treat patients with cancer. They advise on surgery and treatment options and can administer medicines. Their role encompasses diagnosis, discussion with their patient, organising and supervising drugs and therapy treatments, and providing follow up consultations and care. Practitioners are mindful of the emotional needs of their patients and their families, and the benefits and limitations of therapeutic interventions. They provide ongoing management of cancer patients and end-of-life care. They work in multidisciplinary teams to provide holistic, multidimensional care to patients with cancer, and collaborate with other specialists. They undertake a mix of clinical and research activities, train junior doctors, and provide clinical leadership. To become a Medical Oncologist, doctors need to complete Advanced Training in Medical Oncology, a 3-year RACP program, which is open to doctors who have completed basic training in Internal Medicine and leads to Fellowship and Specialist registration with AHPRA.

Registrars (Internal Medicine – Medical Oncology) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. They work in a range of primary, secondary, tertiary, clinical, laboratory and acute care settings, in hospitals, private practices and community clinics. Registered doctors at this level can further their career as Hospital Doctors or Career Medical Officers or pursue a medical specialty with further training and specialist registration. Registrars who work in Oncology are undertaking specialised advanced training in Medical Oncology and its clinical practice. They work under Oncologists/specialist consultants and develop skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in providing medical care, diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer.

Nurses (General and Medical Specialty – Oncology/Haematology/Radiology/Cancer Care) specialise in oncology and work in hospitals and private clinics which provide oncology, haematology, radiology and cancer care services. Nurses in this field provide inpatient care, and assist in the delivery of oncology procedures, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or biotherapy. They provide specialist nursing care to patients undergoing cancer treatment and investigation, who may require acute, long-term or palliative care. They work closely with patients of all ages and within a multi-disciplinary team which may consist of oncologists, nuclear medicine specialists, haematologists, radiation therapists, scientists or technologists. Depending on their experience, they may be responsible for training and supervising junior nurses and teams of support staff. To pursue a career in Oncology, employers usually request that nurses are registered, but there are roles available for different levels of experience – please refer to the Nursing section for more information.

Medical Physicists work in hospitals in oncology departments, medical physics and bioengineering departments, or in the private sector. In hospitals, they work as part of multi-disciplinary teams with medical, nursing and other technical assistance staff to deliver medical physics services in radiology, nuclear medicine and radiation oncology. They performance test and procure equipment, calculate dosimetry of radiopharmaceuticals, coordinate and apply quality control measures, implement and advise on radiation safety procedures and legislation, participate in relevant scientific research and development, and provide high-level technical advice. In private companies, they provide radiation safety consultancy, compliance testing, and other expert consultation services in relation to radiation equipment and procurement. They may work with regulatory bodies and other government agencies, and advise on radiation protection requirements, imaging system performance, clinical software and information systems, and general asset management of diagnostic imaging technologies. To work as a medical physicist, employers generally request a recognised Bachelor / Post Graduate degree (or equivalent) in Physics, while some require completion (or working towards) of the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM) Training, Education and Accreditation Program (TEAP), and attainment of a radiation practice license.