What does an Oncology Nurse do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 April 2020
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An oncology nurse is a registered health professional who provides many valuable services to cancer patients and their families. He or she might be responsible for cancer screening, assisting doctors in treatment sessions, discussing care options with patients, counseling friends and family members, or providing educational information to the public. Most oncology nurses work in general hospitals, inpatient and outpatient cancer centers, home health care industries, and cancer research institutions.

Nurses often engage in cancer detection and treatment sessions. An oncology nurse may prepare a patient for chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and observe sessions to ensure their safety. He or she provides direct care to patients after treatment sessions, monitoring their health and helping to relieve pain. Nurses may check vital signs, administer medication, and assist patients with common tasks such as eating and bathing.

Cancer survivors often struggle with establishing proper long-term treatment approaches and living situations. An oncology nurse counsels a patient and his or her family members to explain options and goals for the future. The nurse frequently consults with doctors to coordinate ongoing screenings and treatment sessions to aid in a patient's recovery. He or she provides encouragement and resources to help survivors reestablish independent, meaningful lifestyles.


An oncology nurse's job might involve providing education about cancer prevention and management to other medical professionals and the general public. A nurse may speak at public seminars or visit communities and schools to educate people about the risks, warning signs, and symptoms of cancer. Oncology nurses promote the importance of early detection in cancer patients, so that they may receive the best care possible.

To become an oncology nurse, a person is usually required to complete a three year diploma program offered by hospitals, or an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited college. All educational routes require a person to complete additional training in a hospital or emergency care setting before becoming licensed as a registered nurse. Oncology nurses in the United States can gain certification in their field by taking an exam administered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. Most other countries offer certification through similar private or government agencies.

Continuing education for established oncology nurses is essential to make sure they stay up to date on cancer research, counseling methods, and medical technology. Many hospitals offer regular continuing education courses for their nursing staff. Many oncology nurses choose to pursue master's degrees in nursing in order to advance their careers. Additionally, some nurses achieve doctoral degrees in order to become oncology physicians or surgeons.


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What science is involved in your job as a an oncology nurse?

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