It’s a part of a nurse’s job to meet people at some of the worst times of their lives. However, this doesn’t mean that their jobs are not meaningful or fulfilling. They help people out when they need it the most, so every nursing specialty is equally rewarding.
An Oncology nurse, however, chooses to take on some of the most challenging tasks and situations out there. Working with people diagnosed with one of the most serious illnesses can be emotionally taxing so it’s not something everyone wants to do. These professionals are making a difference by being there when they’re most needed.
If you’re thinking of specializing in oncology nursing, these are the basics that you need to know.
What is an Oncology Nurse?
Oncology nurses are registered nurses that provide care for cancer patients and those who are at risk of being diagnosed with the disease. They educate patients and their families about the disease so the condition can be handled properly and adequately.
Most of the time, oncology nurses will be the ones who will be with the patients during their medical procedures and treatments. These professionals will assist and help patients as their condition may require close supervision.
What They Do
A large portion of an oncology nurse’s tasks constitutes of observing, assessing, and documenting the patient’s condition. They have to stay on top of the patient’s health status and their reactions to medications. They analyze and record pathology, imaging, and laboratory results and what they entail.
Lots of oncology nurses also provide emotional support to patients and their families during the difficult times that they have to work together. They help make the patient and their families understand the illness better so they can manage it properly while they’re at home.
They can explain difficult terminologies, answer the patient’s questions, and help them understand the treatment process. They can also provide the information needed in managing symptoms all throughout the treatment period.
Patients and specialists also rely on oncology nurses to help them communicate better. They’re also tasked to create treatment plans as well as administer medications and treatments.
Where They Work
Oncology nurses work mostly in hospitals and the offices of specialists. They can also work in outpatient and long-term care facilities. Some also work as private nurses.
How Much They Make
Salaries for oncology nurses can range from $60k to $80k per year. The rates depend on the location as well as the expertise and qualifications of the professional.
What Can You Expect in Being an Oncology Nurse?
If you’re thinking of becoming an oncology nurse, you can expect a challenging career. The field of oncology is evolving and dynamic as it is one of the most commonly studied and improved area in medicine. You should expect to continuously learn as a medical professional, for starters.
Building deep and meaningful relationships with patients and their families is also fairly commonly experienced by oncology nurses. As they usually work with patients for months or years on end during the patient’s most trying times, it’s easy for both parties to have a connection and even build a friendship.
You should also expect that the job is emotionally draining. While recoveries do happen, the arduous journey to recovery can be a rough one. The mortality rates that it comes with can also have a huge impact on you.
This line of work will also require a lot from you. You have to be detail-oriented due to the sensitive condition of your patient.
What a lot of people might not expect about this specialty is that it will also have you work with some of the most positive people around. As it handles one of the most difficult conditions there is, the people in this area counter the cloud of fear and doubt with loads of optimism, so it shouldn’t be a bleak environment to work in.
How to Become an Oncology Nurse?
Becoming an oncology nurse may seem difficult, but in reality, it’s not. You just need to earn your BSN and license to get started. You can then gain your experience in oncology.
After gaining 1000 hours of experience, you can then get certified as an oncology nurse from the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. They have six different certifications to offer for various concentrations. You can also pursue graduate studies in the field to let you become an advanced practitioner.
Nursing Organizations Associated with Oncology Nurses
What organizations are out there that help oncology nurses in developing their specialty? Here are a few:
- Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)
- International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC)
- Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses (APHON)
- Society of Gynecologic Nurse Oncologists (SGNO)
Aside from oncology nursing, here are other specialties that you can explore if you’re interested in this line of work:
- Case Management Nursing
- HIV/AIDS Care Nursing
- Hospice Nursing
- Neuroscience Nursing