can everyone handle this?

  1. i was wondering if this is a hard unit to work in. i figured that it has a fast turn over rate. i'm in my second year of nursing school and we do not get do any kind of work with cancer pt's, but i think it would be neat,my question is, what kind of person or personality works best with the cancer pt's.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   ADUCHA
    It can be difficult unit to work on but it can also be a rewarding unit too work on. You sometimes become members of the family, this is especially true when you have patients who are admitted frequently on your unit. Also these patient are dealing with a lot when they are newly diagnosised with cancer. You as a nurse become their shoulder too cry on and also their source of information and emotional support. Now don't get me wrong that you don't feel burnt out but you rely on your co-workers and family as support. You also learn to value life on a day to day. When you start to feel burnt out it is important to take holidays. You have to be a caring nurse too work with these patients and there family.
  4. by   debbyed
    I did onclolgy for about a year. In many ways it was a wonderful year. You couldn't ask for kinder, more special patients. That was also what made it the worse for me. Although I knew I was helping them when they most needed it contiounsly watching these wonderful people die was more than I was capable of enduring for more than that year. Oncology nurses are truely angels of mercy.
  5. by   Julie, RN
    I agree with what both ADUCHA and se student have written. I fell in love with oncology nursing while in school. I was fortunate enough to be able to do 3 semesters on the inpt onc floor (one mandatory and 2 as electives). Once I graduated I took a position on the same onc floor I had done my clincals on. I've since moved and am now at a different hospital but still doing inpt onc and love it (for about a year and a half now). Some nurses do get very burned out and leave, but many stay also.
    Some also leave and then come back b/c they missed the onc trajectory. Onc pt' are so incredibly unique it is hard to describe them with just words-it's a very spiritual and educational experience to care for them and their families. You learn something about living and living well everyday that you take care of them-nothing is taken for granted. Every moment counts!Where I work we often depend on one another and humor to get us through the stressful times. Having a good sense of humor is very helpful when working with onc pt's. There are also many other avenues of working with onc pt's that are a bit less stressful-like in the outpt setting or clinical trials.

    Good Luck,
    Julie M., RN
    Don't count the days,
    make the days count!
  6. by   ChemoRN
    The honest answer is no, everyone can not handle this. but those of us who do are the luckiest nurses in the world.

    I have heard for years that oncology nurses are "angels" or "special people" or whatever wonderful thing they are calling us now. boy have we got the rest of the world fooled!! We have the most awesome patients, the best families, the best staff, the best docs, etc etc.

    Truly, there are patients who touch your heart in ways that cannot be explained. You give pieces of yourself away to these people and you are so rewarded for that. I have never given more to a patient than they have given to me. I just can't tell you how taking care of these people and being there for them during this time of there lives comes back to you to enrich your life.

    A long time ago, a dear patient of mine passed. He was 33, had a wonderful wife and 2 small children - ages 3 and 6. I was so focused on the fact that we had failed (I was a new grad and still thought modern medicine could fix anything ) His wife said to me, just minutes after his death, "everyone has to die, but dying doesn't have to be bad. You made his death dignified and special." sniff sniff sniff - still gets me. Just this summer I spoke with the wife again, after a similar situation happened with another patient. she said "all these years later, when I look back, I don't think about how horrible it was, I think about you and I smile. Don't ever question that you made the difference"

    Is there any wonder that I love oncology?

    come on over and try it out. it's not for everyone, but if you have even the most remote interest, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

    Sorry for the long winded response, I tend to get passionate about my patients!
  7. by   KatWright
    I have been a nurse for nearly 30 years, and only the last 7 years on oncology. The only reason that I went there was because they had 12 hour shifts. But I can't explain the feeling that I had come home.......I truly feel that.........I know it sounds very corny but the onc pts abd theri families are the best that I have ever had the pleasure of caring for.
    There is not a unit in the hospital that doesn't experience death at some time. But on the onc unit, we get to know them a little (some more than others) and to be a part of their lives as we do is sooooooo special. Of course there are those that touch you so that when they do die, you cry.
    But, how about the (non-cancer) patient who breaks his ankle tripping over the dog (cat, chair, kids) , has it fixed and then throws a BIG PE the day he is to go home and drops dead!!!
    Or the trauma patient that the family doesn't get to say goodbye to , no will, no plans. Just the wife or husband or parents or kids to deal with everthing.
    Our patients get a gift - they are able to realize that they are going to die and have an active part in the planning of what will happen to the house, car, money etc.
    I wouldn't trade it for the world.
    Also, ny 43 bed unit has very little turnover and we only have 1 or 2 openings !!
    I LOVE MY JOB !!
    Kat
  8. by   rosemadder
    Hey Everybody:
    I am also thinking of working in Oncology. However, I have quite a ways to go as I am just finishing my first semester out of five. I have volunteered with Hospice and love that organization. I received so much more from my patients than I ever gave. Your posts have made me think more seriously about working in Oncology and have really warmed my heart! You truly are angels of mercy!!!
  9. by   TracyAB


    I have worked Oncology for the past 5 years and I love it. Is it terrible to say that. I nurse not only palliative care patients but patients with newly diagnosed cancer as well. It can be a hard place to work, especially when you are dealing with death and dying and upset and familes.

    I find that you need to have accepted death yourself to help someone else, or someone's family learn to accept it too. Meaning you must have your own belief system, and be comfortable in it to help others.

    As well I find that the people you work with make all the difference. I find that the people I work with have become so close to me, its like working with family. We go through sheer hell together and it brings us very close. As well we have a great pastor that believes in "talking" about what is happening, not leaving it inside you to build and build until you blow. Not everyone can work this type of nursing. I've come to the point where I see my work with palliation as helping someone to have a "good death" and doing what you can in measures of pain control and support.

    On our unit at Red Deer Regional Hopsital in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.......we also have a lot of fun. We have some good old "belly" laughs, which some people may find inappropriate and others may understand. We have water fights, with 60 cc syringes, when you least expect it, and in the winter you can never be assured you won't find yourself in a indoor snowball fight. We've even gone so far as to put someone in a tub full of jello, all because she told the wrong nurse her fantasy. That's how we get by. Humor and communication between nurses. I truly love and greatly admire the people I work with and consider myself very lucky to work where I do.

    Sincerely
    TracyAB
  10. by   pedsoncology
    I am a 24 year old male and I work at Loma Linda Childrens hospital in the pediatrics oncology unit. I love it. These kids for the most part are so happy and they run around the unit like they are outside playing. Alot of the kids here are so understanding and are able to tell YOU about their illness. They are sick internally, but not physically sick. they are able to walk and play and do almost everything anyone else can with a few exceptions. Here at our hospital they play supernintendo in their rooms. It gives me the best feeling ever. I love it here, and I love working with the kids. Yeah its sad sometimes cause not everyone make it, but with a 75% turn around rate, they have a pretty good chance. We have such high technology its wonderful. Well hope that helped give an insight on how rewarding it can be, and how rewarding it is. Steve
  11. by   LiznTexas
    I had to laugh as I have been on the recieving end of a 20cc syringe of saline. OK, I've been known to give as good as I get too. It gets a bit silly in the med room at times. It's all about the humor you need to deal with some of the stuff you see. But I love working with the kids and their families. Their strength amazes me. I get a daily reality check about what's really important. There is something very special and almost spiritual about people that are dealing with cancer. I feel priveledged that they let me into this very personal part of their lives. Sure, we give...but we get back so much more I believe.
  12. by   formernurse
    I have had the opportunity to experience both sides of cancer. 3 years ago, I went and lived with my sister as she bravely fought the end of a 5 year battle with breast cancer. Her biggest desire was to be at home at the end, and I was the only one in the family who was able to stay with her. As sad as it was to see her going down hill, it was the most rewarding experience to be with her so she could have her last wish. Even she said that it was the greatest gift I could have given her.

    At the same time, I had just had three months of chemo and radiation for lung cancer. The nurses in outpatient chemo were by far the best in the field, and I could not have had better care and support. It will be 4 years next month since I was diagnosed, and I still never take my survivorship for granted. Each clear chest xray is a gift from God. God Bless each one of you oncology nurses.
  13. by   nursejws
    I think it has to take an AMAZING person and a nurse to work with cancer patients. Not that ALL nurses aren't amazing. I personally do not think I could handle it after watching my Dad die from cancer just six months after he was diagnosed. He had the most amazing oncoligist(sp) and neurologist in Denver...they did become part of the family. We actually tried to hook the neurologist up with one of my brothers! We were a little late, my brother was engaged.

    I met a lot of his nurses during a surprise visit to see him in the hospital. Of course my Dad was quite the character too. He had nurses singing to him, laughing with him, praying with him, and taking good care of him. Before his death, my brother took down the names of all of his dr's and nurses and sent them thank you notes on our behalf.
  14. by   canadian
    I work as a peds onc nurse. I either go home totally elated or I cry myself to sleep. The great thing is that I FEEL every day. I am not a nurse for the hours or the money, but for the fact that it fills my life.

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