What does an Oncology Nurse do?

D. Jeffress

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.

Oncology nurses work closely with doctors to form a care plan for each patient.
Oncology nurses work closely with doctors to form a care plan for each patient.

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.

Depending on the patient's condition and prognosis, an oncology nurse practitioner may recommend preventive health measures.
Depending on the patient's condition and prognosis, an oncology nurse practitioner may recommend preventive health measures.

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 will monitor patients after cancer treatments, and help them relieve any pain.
An oncology nurse will monitor patients after cancer treatments, and help them relieve any pain.

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.

Some oncology nurses work in the home health industry.
Some oncology nurses work in the home health industry.

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.

An oncology nurse may prepare a patient for chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
An oncology nurse may prepare a patient for chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

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.

Chemotherapy, which is one of the most prescribed treatments in medical oncology, may cause hair loss in some cancer patients.
Chemotherapy, which is one of the most prescribed treatments in medical oncology, may cause hair loss in some cancer patients.
An oncology nurse may be tasked with discussing care options with the patient.
An oncology nurse may be tasked with discussing care options with the patient.

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Discussion Comments

anon68947

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

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