What Do Oncology Nurses Do?

Oncology nurses are essential partners in the care of patients with cancer or those at risk for it. They provide necessary evaluations, administer treatments, and communicate with all patient care providers to develop a plan tailored to each patient's needs. Oncology nurses are often the ones who provide consistent information and guidance throughout the treatment plan. They have the training to assess a person's needs both in hospitals and in outpatient offices, and anticipate the needs of patients and family caregivers.

They work with case managers and social workers to ensure that patients have the right support and professional help in their homes and communities. Becoming an oncology nurse requires a couple of years of specialized experience or a postgraduate degree in oncology to go with your nursing degree, which is a minimum requirement. 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. Oncology nurses in a hospital can be very demanding, but they have the privilege of helping to relieve patients' pain and help them go through a difficult time. Communication between staff at different centers may not be optimal, and the communication and coordination that the oncology nurse can provide represents an invaluable service for patients who may be confused and frightened. Nurses in outpatient clinics generally work 8- or 9-hour shifts, while those working on oncology floors often work 12-hour shifts with fewer “on” days to balance it out.

Another option would be to create experience in an oncology floor as a certified nursing assistant before or during nursing school. Cancer patients often know more medical jargon than the average patient, but between the “mental fog” that often accompanies chemotherapy and fatigue, oncology nurses must make an emphatic effort to confirm that the patient understands what is happening to their health. The nurse should explain the reasons for the interventions and allow time for patient and family questions. Oncology nurses are essential for helping cancer patients navigate complex treatment protocols, manage symptoms, and redefine what a “normal life” means to them while dealing with physical pain and often overwhelming fatigue. They often establish special relationships with their patients due to frequent appointments and long-term care. With new movements in best oncology practices and more treatments making their way to practice than ever before, nursing responsibilities in the outpatient setting are growing at an unprecedented rate.