Are you considering a career in nursing? If so, you may want to consider oncology nursing. Oncology nurses provide care to patients with cancer and their families. They are responsible for monitoring the patient's physical condition, managing medications, and administering chemotherapy and other treatments. Oncology nursing is a great profession for nurses who enjoy ongoing relationships with patients and their families.
It has its own unique requirements, but it also offers enormous rewards. Oncology nurses must be compassionate, accurate and resilient. They must be able to focus on the details, as chemotherapy medications are weight-based and patient-specific. Good oncology nurses will notice even small changes in their patients' medical records and are the first line of defense if something goes wrong. Although this certification is not available to those with no oncology experience as a registered nurse, Arriola recommends that recent graduates consider taking the Oncology Nursing Society's introductory course, Cancer Basics, to demonstrate your interest in this nursing specialty.
Now that we have the basics of oncology-focused nursing roles, let's discuss what cancer nurses think you should know before starting this career path. If your heart is with cancer patients and you want to be there during some of their most difficult times, oncology might be the right specialty for you. Employers find this certification highly desirable for both inpatient and outpatient cancer nurses. Many people can't understand why someone would want to work in this field (just as I don't understand why some people work in the NICU or pediatric oncology). Oncology nurses care for cancer patients, are their first line of communication and help coordinate the many aspects of their care during cancer treatment.While this may vary by employer, nurses in outpatient clinics generally work 8-hour or 9-hour shifts, while those working on oncology floors often work 12-hour shifts with fewer “set” days to balance it out.
Cancer nurses are also there to provide compassion to their patients and keep their patients calm in the midst of a difficult situation. I love working in oncology and I firmly believe that there is something special about cancer patients that touches my heart and soul. The roles of the cancer nurse can range from specializing in bone marrow transplants to focusing on cancer screening, screening, and prevention in the community. Cancer nurses need to refine the psychosocial aspect of their role, in addition to the highly technical aspects of monitoring their patients. All oncology nurses must obtain a chemo-bio certification before administering chemotherapies and biotherapies. Oncology nursing is a rewarding career choice for those who want to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.
It requires dedication, resilience and compassion but offers immense rewards. If you're looking for a career that will challenge you professionally and emotionally, consider becoming an oncology nurse.