So why certify in chemotherapy

  1. I've been giving chemo for 2 years now and my certification is up for renewal. I'm more than likely going to follow my coworkers and not recertify. Too much added work, no perks. I don't get less patients because I'm giving chemo and I sure don't get a pay raise. Last night for instance I was the only chemo nurse in the hospital. I had to sign the chemo off with the pharmacist because there wasn't another chemo nurse. I've got 3 patients getting this caustic substance through peripheral lines, meaning regular IVs. Then ICU keeps calling and demanding I come down there to give a sick woman her first time chemo. Since I'm the only game in town, I refused. PAtients have to be monitored.

    So my question is, did anyone else go through the chemo drill? Why get certified at all? On the bright side, the cancer patients are among the nicest.

    As always, thanks in advance, a pleasure hearing from all of you.
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   dayflower
    I also let my chemo expire. quite frequently I was the only chemo RN on too, also not extra pay or perks, also same # pts as everyone else, I didn't care for the pts family's, I found too many of the familys request care a certain way then got stabbed in the back for doing as the had requested, now I just stay away from the whole chemo thing.....
  4. by   txRN07
    As a newly licensed RN on an oncology unit, I am very excited to get certified and frustrated that the hospital is not currently offering classes. I can understand your frustration though. We do have several certified nurses on our floor as well as our unit manager who always jumps in when needed. It sounds like that is what your facility needs and they should realize that and do something about it as now they have 1 less certified nurse.
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    Well, I guess if you actually gain some knowledge from the cert and that that would result in better outcomes for your patients, about whom I assume you care, that would be a good reason to recetify. If, however, it's just a piece of paper then I agree that it's a waste.
  6. by   canoehead
    Is this a hospital-based program, or is there a national certification? If it's national, can anyone tell me the name?
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Quote from canoehead
    Is this a hospital-based program, or is there a national certification? If it's national, can anyone tell me the name?
    Oncology Nurses Society promotes and supports additional education to encourage highest standards. Info:

    ONS Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Course
    http://www.ons.org/faq/chemo.shtml
  8. by   ukstudent
    Let's see if I have this correct. You have to pay money out of your pocket and time out of your life to get re-certified. And for this you get extra work with no extra pay. I don't see why you are not jumping at the bit to get that certification.
    Maybe if your hospital has to pay agency wages for someone chemo certified they will start to address the problem. What has been the response to the other nurses not re-certifying?
  9. by   RN1989
    If you are not giving chemo, then I would say that it probably doesn't matter if you recert.

    However, having a chemo provider card is like having ACLS - it gives you a better knowledge base and can give you a leg up on getting a job if you are competing against someone who does not have the education. It demonstrates that you are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that you are kept abreast of the latests standards. When I hire people, I look for that. Otherwise I tend to think that if you aren't willing to educate yourself, you might not be a safe nurse and I would think twice about hiring you if another nurse came along willing to show proof of continuing ed that is relevant (not just those Humor for nurses CEs that people like to get).

    If you are giving chemo and don't keep your card up, then you are asking for a lawsuit. The card is meant as a means of verifying that you have the knowledge necessary to give chemo. It doesn't completely protect you, but it will go farther to a lawyer than you just saying "Well, I read the oncology magazines. And I really do know what the contraindications for vincristine are." You can't prove that you have kept up with trends in chemo just by your word. And when you are being sued, your word doesn't mean squat to the plaintiffs attorney.

    Just because the hospital doesn't pay for doesn't mean that it isn't important. Twelve years ago a Level 1 trauma referral center where I was living stopped requiring it's ER nurses to have ACLS cards. Because they didn't want to pay for the courses anymore. Does that mean that the nurses shouldn't be trained in ACLS??? Kinda like your chemo card, if you give it, you should have the card.
  10. by   ukstudent
    I got the feeling from Johnny Moo Man's post they were going to stop giving chemo, due to all the extra work the hospital wanted them to do without any support. I don't think you can equate it with ACLS for ER nurses because the amount of work would stay the same for them (not increase) due to certification.
  11. by   RN007
    I am a new, older RN who just left an oncology unit to work in occupational health instead. I love oncology -- the patients and families. I love caring for the sickest and nursing their families, too. I love sharing in the successes and helping with the disappointments. But as a new nurse, having 8 or 9 of these patients at a time was wearing on me and my own family. Yeah, I know -- 'It'll get better after a year.' Before I left, I was offered the opportunity to start taking chemo classes. I very much wanted to learn everything about chemo and have the knowledge base. But after seeing what was happening to our chemo-certified nurses, I decided it was too much for me. Frequently there was only one chemo nurse and because nurses had to be certified to give chemo, this sole certified nurse could be run ragged. I didn't want the added stress. It's not just another patient. It's a patient who could go bad any minute. Multiply that by x and there's your day. It's not good for the patient and not fun for the nurse. If that's how the hospital wants to handle it, I don't want to be part of it. Fortunately, occupational health was my other interest area and I have found a great job. I miss the oncology patients and working in a hospital, but not the stress. I totally understand Johhny Moo Man's stance.
  12. by   pagandeva2000
    I would have grave difficulty in running around like a chicken with no extra graces whatsoever. If you can have a calmer day, then, do so. Maybe they will see what it is like after there is no certified person available at all and offer better incentives.
  13. by   tlg98
    I am scared of chemo. I do not know why? I guess because I am a new grad. I am still learning IV and blood transfusions.
  14. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from tlg98
    I am scared of chemo. I do not know why? I guess because I am a new grad. I am still learning IV and blood transfusions.
    You're scared of it because you're smart and it's some scary stuff. Toxic. On purpose. And we pump it into people to kill the cells that are killing them and in so doing kill the good cells off, too.

    You'd be stupid not to be scared.

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