Oncology nursing is a sub-specialty of nursing in which the professional works exclusively with cancer patients and their families. There are many specialized areas within this sub-specialty and job skills are learned through a blend of nursing college, experience, and ongoing training. All oncology nurses are RNs with advanced training. Oncology nursing is a prevalent service in hospitals, specialty centers, and hospice organizations.
What is Oncology Nursing?
Oncology nursing is a specialized field of nursing in which the patients in focus are those with cancer and those who are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Although oncology nurses work solely with cancer patients, there is a broad spectrum of specialties within the field. Oncology nursing professionals are present during any cancer-related care, including end-of-life care and early prevention programs. It is also possible to further specialize in a specific aspect of any related health care. All nurses in this subspecialty share the same general knowledge and learn job-specific skills during their time in the profession.
Nursing School Curriculum for Oncology Nursing
All oncology nurses are registered nurses, certified in the state in which they choose to practice. They generally obtain a two to four year degree in nursing before entering the oncology specialty. Specific skills and advanced knowledge relating to cancer are required for this career field. Special skills that fall outside of the typical RN program include:
- Cancer prevention
- Cancer treatments
- Treatment side effects and care for side effects
- Nutrition during treatment
- Critical care skills relating direct to cancer
- Basic physiology, genetics, and chemistry of cancer and treatments
- Mental health care
- Pain control and prevention
Like all nurse professionals, continued education is critical for success in the field. It is also a requirement for license renewal and career advancement. Ongoing training for oncology nurses include classes that relate to research and treatment of oncology patients, as well as general health, medicine, and nursing topics. Visit the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation for more information about on-going training and certifications.
Careers for Nursing School Graduates with Oncology Nursing Specialty
Oncology nurses typically work in hospital, hospice, and specialty hospital environments. Many work with patients in assisted living facilities and specialty residency programs, as well. The career opportunities for oncology nursing are immense, as cancer is an ongoing public health issue with no known cure. New jobs for oncology nurses, including those in post-treatment/recession programs, are appearing at a steady rate. Visit the Oncology Nursing Society for even more information.
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