The registered nurse who helps doctors in the general practice of medicine is probably the kind of nurse most familiar to the general public. Anyone who is interested in pursuing a nursing career, however, understands that nurses can specialize in nearly every form of medicine and work directly with patients and diseases on which a particular form of medicine concentrates. There are many nurse jobs, for example, oncology nursing, as oncology nurses are needed to work with doctors and other medical personnel in order to treat cancer patients. What does an oncology nurse do and what is a career in this field like? This guide has the answers.
Oncology Nursing Tasks
As noted, oncology nurses are an integral part of the treatment of cancer patients. Since the early 1970s, the number of different treatments for cancer has multiplied greatly. This means that oncologists need help monitoring patients and administering cancer treatment. They rely on nurses who graduate from nursing programs that emphasize cancer treatment to help with all of the different ways that cancer can be attacked and, hopefully, forced into remission.
Nursing education prepares oncology nurses for a variety of critical roles and tasks in the treatment of cancer patients. They are a key part of educating patients about cancer and its treatment before, during, and after an individual with cancer is treated. Working with oncologists, they help to answer patient questions, provide assurance about the likelihood of a treatment’s success, and help family members cope with someone who is suffering from the dreaded disease of cancer. Having completed education that goes beyond a basic LPN program or RN program, they are armed with knowledge that can help them comfort cancer patients and keep them informed about their illness.
Oncology nurses may gain specialized training in one of the major treatment methods such as chemotherapy or radiation. Those who have gone through traditional or online nursing programs for oncology nurses in either of these more specialized fields are equipped to help administer medication and radiation in a clinical setting. Many will choose to become oncology nurse practitioners who can prescribe medication and initiate treatment under the supervision of a medical doctor. Those who are particularly interested in leadership may combine skills acquired through online LPN programs or online RN programs that focus on nurse leadership with knowledge of the practice of oncology and become a head nurse in a cancer clinic or hospital. Such a position will involve hiring and firing, scheduling, training existing oncology nurses in addition to patient treatment and so forth.
Nursing Education for Oncology Nurses
Because oncology nurses focus on patients who are suffering specifically from cancer, those who want to enter the field of oncology nurses need an education that goes beyond the basics of nursing. Most hospitals and clinics require their oncology nurses to have completed the course of education that trains people to become registered nurses at one of the many nursing schools in this country. Additionally, clinic hours in an oncology ward under the supervision of an oncologist and other oncology nurses is required. A master’s degree that allows the nurse to focus on oncology nursing is almost always required as well for those who choose oncology nursing as their field out of many different nursing occupations. Fortunately for those who are working full time or who are otherwise unable to attend a traditional nursing program, there are many online LPN programs and online RN programs as well as several oncology nursing online degrees. Such programs make it easier than ever to become an oncology nurse, and so there is no excuse not to get started on one’s education if a nursing career in oncology is desired.
Oncology nurses prove their qualifications for oncology nursing through attaining certification as an oncology certified nurse or an advanced oncology certified nurse. Those who want to work with children can even be certified as a pediatric oncology nurse. Certification is available to those who complete a prescribed course of nursing education in oncology, attain sufficient clinic hours, and pass one of the tests administered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. These steps demonstrate competence in oncology nursing and that one is well equipped for a nursing career in the oncology field.
The shortage of nurses in the United States and the growth of an older population that is more susceptible to cancer means that there will continue to be a high number of nurse jobs in the foreseeable future for those who want to practice oncology nursing. The average rate of pay is higher for oncology nurses than it is for the basic registered nurse. Some who graduate from an LPN program or RN program and then attain a specialty in oncology nursing have even been known to make six figures after working for several years in the field. Nursing schools are eager to accept new students and prepare them for an exciting nursing career in oncology nursing, and there is a good amount of financial aid and other assistance available to those who want to take part in one of the many nursing programs now offered in the United States. Students can even get started preparing for their oncology nursing careers by beginning or completing their studies via an online LPN program or online RN program.
Oncology nursing allows individuals to perform a diverse set of tasks while helping others get through a devastating illness. It is the logical choice of a career field for those who want an exciting and engaging job and to help out the community. For more information on oncology nursing, the prospects of the career field, treating cancer patients, requirements for oncology nursing programs, and much more, please visit the following sites: