Nurse Types / Oncology Nurse
An oncology nurse is a healthcare professional who specializes in working with cancer patients. There are many kinds of cancers that can have a devastating effect on anyone. It takes a particular kind of nurse to work in this field. Oncology nurses must deal with the patient’s immediate needs as well as the relational and psychological components of providing long-term care.
The good news is that through improvements in treatment, more nurses are seeing patients transition to survivors. Also, due to how cancer treatments work, oncology nurses have the opportunity to build relationships with their patients in ways other nurses might not have.
In this article, we will explore:
- What does an oncology nurse do?
- How do you become an oncology nurse?
- How much does an oncology nurse make?
- What’s the career outlook for oncology nurses?
What does an oncology nurse do?
The oncology nurse plays a vital role in helping cancer patients on a day-to-day basis. Their duties include:
- Taking inventory of the patient’s health history
- Assessing and tracking the patient’s physical and emotional status
- Administering medications and cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Managing chemotherapy side effects
- Filing pathology and imaging studies
- Coordinating with the healthcare team to develop and implement a treatment plan for the patient
- Educating patients and family members on the disease
- Supporting patients and family members throughout the process
As an oncology nurse, your foundational skills in the field include:
- Interpersonal communication
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work under pressure
How do you become an oncology nurse?
Like any other nursing role, there are steps required to become an oncology nurse.
- Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, (BSN): The first step to becoming an oncology nurse involves earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Though you can become an oncology nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), having a bachelor’s degree provides you with more opportunities.
- Become an RN: If you don’t have your registered nursing license, you will have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam after earning your BSN. If you already work as a nurse, you can volunteer in the oncology unit of a hospital as a nursing assistant. This can give you insight into whether the role is suitable for you. It can help you gain valuable skills.
- Obtain certification: To become an oncology certified nurse, you will have to take the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) nurse exam. You will also need to take continuing education courses. As a nurse, it’s essential to keep up with best practices and procedures. As an oncology certified nurse, you will need to renew your certification every four years. And some employers require certification to be able to administer chemotherapy drugs.
If you desire to advance within oncology, you could consider earning your Master of Science in Nursing. This can lead to you becoming an oncology nurse practitioner or even a clinical nurse specialist.
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How much do oncology nurses make?
Oncology nurses’ salaries depend on their education level, years of experience, where they work, and the employer’s size. In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean salary for registered nurses is $91,182 a year.
Oncology nurses can earn more with a BSN or MSN degree. Additionally, some oncology nurses are eligible for sign-on bonuses or overtime pay.
You may choose to get an advanced degree and become an oncology nurse practitioner. This could significantly boost your salary.
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What’s the career outlook for oncology nurses?
The oncology field always needs nurses. This field will require more nurses as the baby boomers age.
In 2021, the National Cancer Institute is projecting that 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. It is estimated that about a quarter of new cancer diagnoses happen to geriatric patients. This makes it even more important for there to be a ready supply of nurses in the oncology field.
Top oncology nurse jobs on Incredible Health
Philadelphia, PA | $49,900 to $105,000 /year
Delaware, OH | $55,000 to $90,000 /year
Denver, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
Abington, PA | $68,000 to $104,000 /year
McKinney, TX | $54,000 to $100,000 /year