Cancer nurses have a special combination of heart, compassion, spirit, and dedication that makes them stand out from other nurses. In honor of Oncology Nursing Month, we wanted to recognize two of our nurses and thank them for their hard work. Oncology nursing is a great profession for those who want to build long-term relationships with patients and their families. It has its own unique challenges, but it also offers many rewards. We asked an oncology nurse what she likes most about her job and what nursing students should know about specializing in oncology.
As an oncology nurse, you can find work in a variety of settings. You can leave the hospital to work in a nursing home or health care facility. This is ideal for nurses who may enjoy going out to work in the community. When nurses choose to work in an oncology setting, they understand that there will be challenges and they do it anyway. To be a cancer nurse, you really need to understand the importance of a holistic approach to patient care.
It's important to find several cancer nurses who work in traditional health care, in the community, and in public health settings. The field of oncology nursing is one of the most challenging and rewarding fields of nursing. Even when a patient's cancer is quite advanced or the prognosis is poor, cancer nurses love to make a difference in quality of life. Oncology nurses have a cancer-specific knowledge base and clinical experience in cancer care beyond what is gained in a core nursing program. I was attracted to oncology specifically because I love having the opportunity to build long-term relationships with my patients. Oncology nurses must track numerous details throughout the day for each patient and will likely need to see several patients each day.
Cancer nurses need to focus on the details, as chemotherapy medications are weight-based and patient-specific. Keep in mind that pediatric oncology carries the additional emotional challenge of helping young children and their families. Cancer nurses can also work in the private sector or be entrepreneurial nurses to broaden their horizons beyond the traditional healthcare environment. Another option would be to create experience in an oncology floor as a certified nursing assistant before or during nursing school. There are many different healthcare settings in which a cancer nurse can practice, such as doctor's offices, outpatient chemotherapy centers, outpatient radiation departments, interventional radiology rooms, inpatient units, and intensive care units.
As with staff positions, the oncology nursing salaries that traveling RNs can expect will vary by location and employer.