Nurses who practice in the field of oncology care for cancer patients. The field of oncology continues to grow rapidly, as cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Nurses who work in oncology monitor their patient’s symptoms and condition, prescribe medications, administer chemotherapy, assist with radiation treatments, counsel patients, and establish strategies for managing symptoms. Oncology nurses work with doctors and surgeons in order to formulate the best treatment plan for the patient. They also teach the patient and his or her family about the disease and treatment.
Oncology nurses may specialize in different areas. For example, they may choose to work with only children (pediatric oncology nurse) or with patients who have a specific kind of cancer, such as bone marrow or lung cancer. As may be expected, the work of an oncology nurse can be emotionally intense. Oncology nurses must be compassionate and caring. They often assist patients who are undergoing great suffering or they help patients and their families deal with the death of the patient. Due to the gravity of these things, oncology nurses often develop strong, deep relationships with patients and their families. They may derive great satisfaction from knowing that they are doing something that is very meaningful and necessary.
The median salary for an oncology nurse is about $64,000. In order to become an oncology nurse, you must at least have your registered nurse credential. You may choose to start your career with a two-year associate’s degree, but you will probably want to obtain at least your bachelor’s degree. You must also take an additional exam before you become an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN). If you wish, you can become an oncology nurse practitioner by earning your master’s degree. In this role, you can be the direct caregiver for a cancer patient, coordinate treatment plans, act as a consultant, and more.