Top 5 reasons I loved oncology...
1. Research. Given my research-heavy background, I knew coming into residency that I wanted a specialty or subspecialty that meshed well with research. Now internal medicine is a pretty research-focused specialty, but Hem/Onc is probably the most research intensive subspecialty branch of internal medicine. It’s not that I’ve figured out exactly how I want to balance my MD/PhD, but I at least want the possibility for it to be there.
2. Patient compliance. One of the biggest frustrations in medicine is medical non-compliance. It’s rampant, and it’s almost unavoidable. In general the Hem/Onc population is an exception to that rule. These are some of the most compliant patients you’ll ever encounter… sometimes to a fault. But it’s refreshing. They just want to live.
3. Patient population. I’ll be honest, working with oncology patients just makes me happy. It’s not just the compliance issue. It’s everything about them. I can relate to them in ways that I can’t with any other patient population. I get where they’re coming from. I understand their fears. Most of them are really nice people dealing with a really crappy situation. I feel like a have way better good person-to-asshole ratio in Hem/Onc.
4. Sick, sick, sick patients. A good proportion of onc patients are pretty dang sick at baseline. The ones we see on the wards are dealing with an acute problem on top of that baseline sick. Lots of multisystem problems with competing comorbidities. It’s great for people who like complex problem solving.
5. Infectious disease, my second love. I won’t lie. While oncology is my first love, I really enjoy infectious disease. The good part about oncology is that infectious disease is a big problem. Neutropenic fevers. Crazy abscesses. Lot of pneumonias. Lots of room for antibiotic stewardship. I dig it.
Overall, I’m pretty sure this is my jam. At this point the only possible specialty to uproot Hem/Onc is a combined Hem/Onc + Palliative fellowship.