Nurses in this field provide care and support for cancer patients who are either chronically or critically ill and to their family members. Oncology nurses are responsible for administering chemotherapy and for monitoring their patients’ physical conditions and medical needs. Patients range from pediatric to adult, include a wide range of diagnostic categories and all phases of treatment from evaluation to long-term follow-up of cancer survivors. Many times, oncology nurses will work within a multidisciplinary team that consults with a group of professionals offering different specialties.

Duties of an Oncology Nurse

Patients who have a cancer diagnosis also have highly complex clinical, psychosocial and educational needs. Oncology nurses are there to meet those needs through clinical care, patient/family education, nursing and multidisciplinary research and interdisciplinary collaboration. This field is growing through ongoing research, so the oncology nurse often will work with sophisticated equipment.

Between the emotional aspects of this job and technical and educational expansions, it is no wonder that nurses in this field can experience a plethora of support through journals, support teams, organizations and more. Oncology nurses can find education and support through various groups that also focus on various cancer illnesses and age groups. For instance, the pediatric oncology nurse can find professional leadership through the Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses.

It is good to remember that not every patient becomes a sad story. Thanks to the tremendous medical advances that have been made in the war against cancer in recent years, today‚Äôs oncology nurses have hope on their side. Additionally, in cancer treatment, new drugs are under development all the time. Nurses who work in oncology get to administer the newest treatments available and see for themselves the rewarding results when a person’s condition dramatically improves.

Related Types of Nurses

Oncology nurses may go on to work as case managers who manage a team of oncology nurses. Or, they may become clinical educators, providing staff training and making sure newly hired nurses are following treatment protocols. The specialty also needs research nurses who can investigate factors affecting cancer outcomes and conduct clinical trials so that new treatments for childhood cancers can be developed. And there are opportunities to move up into administrative and managerial positions, such as clinical managers.

Related types of nurses are those who deal with terminally or chronically ill patients, such as those who suffer from alcoholism, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. This might include the substance abuse nurse, a nurse who works with patients in their homes, and even forensic nursing. Other possibilities include otorhinolaryngology nursing (head and neck) or hospice/palliative nursing.

Oncology Nursing Degrees

Requirements for oncology nurses often include a current MD registered nursing license and two to five years nursing experience, preferably in the oncology nursing field. Other cancer centers may work with individuals who obtain a bachelor’s degree (BSN) and certification. The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) has several different certification options, including the OCN, CPON, AOCN, AOCNP or AOCNS credential. The certifications vary depending on a student’s level of training and education.

Online Programs in Oncology Nursing

  • Colorado Technical University: RN to BSN
  • Drexel University: RN to BSN
  • Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences: RN to BSN
  • Indiana State University: LPN to BSN
  • Kaplan University: RN to BSN
  • Liberty University: RN to BSN
  • South University: RN to BSN
  • University of Phoenix: RN to BSN
  • Walden University: BSN