What Does an Oncology Nurse Do?
By Debra Wood, RN, Contributor
It Takes a Special Type of Personality to be an Oncology Nurse
Caring for patients with cancer requires a certain sort of registered nurse, one with compassion, and strong clinical skills. Cancer is an epidemic that affects all walks of life, which is why oncology travel nurses remain in high demand throughout the United States.
Oncology nurses must compassionately listen to patients’ fears and worries while helping them through difficult times. Sometimes just being present means a lot to a patient with a cancer diagnosis. These specialized nurses must administer chemotherapy, fluids, and medications; monitor patients for condition changes; and keep track of pathology, laboratory, and imaging results. It is common for an oncology nurse to hold a patient’s hand as they travel on their cancer journey or as life ebbs.
RNs have a natural way of building special bonds with their patients. Patients with cancer often return time and again to the hospital or clinic, and visit the nurses who cared for them. That continuity appeals to oncology nurses as they can quickly determine what is needed for one patient but perhaps not another.
What it Takes to Be an Oncology Nurse
Oncology nurses practice in a variety of settings, including inpatient, clinics, infusion centers, and home health care. Additionally, some oncology nurses specialize in caring for patients with a specific type of cancer.
Oncology nurses should be detail-oriented, because of the complexity of medication schedules and patients’ various conditions. They must manage patients’ cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. Oncology nurses need good assessment skills, and must be a strong patient advocate.
It is obliged that oncology nurses are good problem solvers and are able to prioritize and adapt to changing conditions. It is the duty of these RNs to have strong critical thinking and communication skills to effectively engage in therapeutic relationships and collaborate as part of a team. The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) has developed a set of core competencies for oncology nurses for reference.
Furthermore, most patients have families and friends with whom oncology nurses interact.Having the ability to effectively communicate good news and bad news with a patient’s loved ones, is another important part of the job.
Since oncology nursing can be emotionally draining, nurses are encouraged to take good care of themselves. Per the Daily Nurse, oncology RNs should take time to rest, eat healthy, exercise and keep thoughts about work at work. Oncology nurses need emotional resilience and must be the best they can be to deliver the best care to patients.
Additional Certifications for Oncology Nurses
Oncology RNs must know how to safely administer immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Some employers also require radiation oncology experience. Most require one to three years of oncology experience, oncology and chemotherapy certification, and basic life support credentials. Some facilities require advanced cardiac life support certifications.
The ONS offers a variety of online courses to help new and experienced nurses to learn about the oncology specialty and the skills needed to effectively practice.
Moreover, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation offers oncology nurse certifications and materials to prep for each test. Certification is available for chemotherapy, biotherapy and radiation therapy. Each certification validates knowledge in the specialty,commitment to delivering high quality care and employer’s patients value it.
Want to Transition? Try Oncology Travel Nursing!
Hundreds of oncology travel nursing jobs, from Los Angeles to New York,are open and waiting for nurses with the necessary skills to care for cancer patients. The open positions are available in small and large facilities in urban and rural areas throughout the United States.
Salaries for oncology nurses vary by demand in that region, and is also determined by how much the hospital or facility is willing to pay. Travel oncology nurses can earn up to $23,300 per 13-week assignment with American Mobile. On top of an enticing pay rate, traveling nurses receive housing or a housing allowance and stipends for meals and incidentals. One notable benefit, travel nursing offers is the ability to avoid hospital politics and the freedom to focus on the important things like,delivering quality patient care.
Oncology travel nurses can give their all on their scheduled shifts and then step back,relax, see the country as a local,and enjoy the beaches, ski resorts, lakes or mountains.