Do I need a Year of med/surg before going into oncology

  1. Hello I am a graduate nurse and I am undecided where to start off at first in my career. I would like to go into oncology but will it be in my best interest to do a year in med/surg before going into oncology? Any advice will be highly appreciated.


    Thanks in advance
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   ProfRN4
    are you thinking of peds or adults? either way, i think you will get two answers on this (yes and no :chuckle ).

    i never did adult, but i assume the concepts are similar to peds. in onc, a lot of the management is focused arodn the side effects of the meds (chemo) and what it does to the pt., esp. the liver and kidneys and heart. there are a lot of lab values to know (you actually need to know them- but of course the norms are always there in the computer), a lot of medication side effects and interaction issues. also recognizing s/s of renal, liver resp failure and the like.

    having said all of that, i think it depends on you. i work in peds onc. some new grads work out, some do not (like in any specialty, i suppose).
  4. by   nesher
    I was lucky enough to start on a unit that did it all - 4 medical services, for the med side of things, rad onc, urology and gyn ocn. The mix was a bit much, but I saw and learned a lot. Currently I am on a stem cell transplant unit working with lots of nurses who are starting thier careers there. While I think any of them are jumping for the chance to transfer to a med/surg floor, they do notice a lack in their nursing education when confronted with things that are med/surg like. Is this a disadvantage...sort of but only becuase they feel insecure having no expertise in other aspects of the nursing field.
    Do you need that background? Like bonemarrowrn said - 2 answers to that question, yes and no.
    I think following ones heart is always the right way to go. If you know you want to do oncology, do it. The odds are you might get some overflow patients and if you express interest in that type expereince, I am sure you can work with them
  5. by   live4today
    i was told by my nursing instructors (years ago) to work med/surg for at least one year before venturing into other areas. i took their advice. there's always a job opening in med/surg somewhere.
    [color=#483d8b]
    [color=#483d8b]my advice would be to enter into the area of nursing that you feel suits you best. follow your heart. if it turns out to not be you....med/surg is always open for new bruisers on their units.
  6. by   renerian
    I started right out of school and did fine as long as I realized up front I had ALOT to learn.

    renerian
  7. by   RNview
    I am a new RN. I thought I wouldn't be able to get a job at the oncology Unit since I've never had any experience in Oncology nursing yet or med/surg. But I was hired as a new grad. I don't think it is necessary to work at med/surg first. In our hospital, we have a new grad program, and of course an intensive training. I wouldn't handle chemo yet until I get certified in probably a year. I work at Medical Oncology. I also have to attend lots of classes (where I get paid while taking classes). RN's at work are very supportive. Goodluck! It is always good to follow what you really want. You know, I was already orienting at the LTC Facility when I was offered to work at the hospital. I accepted it right away. Oncology nursing is my long term goal and yet I was given an opportunity to work where I really want to work. I took it with all my heart. Now I'm happy

    ~RNview
  8. by   julieK
    I want to encourage you to go for it. I am a semi-new grad (I worked for 7 months and went out on maternity and am returning in a few weeks) and I started on an onc floor. We did stem cell transplants, lots of chemo, no surgical patients. You learn most stuff you would learn on a med-surg floor and so much more. If the unit is new-grad friendly, you will do great. Beware, b/c there's TONS to know about chemo - I'm not even close to knowing everything, but if you have a good preceptor and good training and the other nurses are supportive enough to help you when you need it, you'll do fine.

    Good luck!

    -Julie
  9. by   lonardisilvia
    Quote from gn04
    Hello I am a graduate nurse and I am undecided where to start off at first in my career. I would like to go into oncology but will it be in my best interest to do a year in med/surg before going into oncology? Any advice will be highly appreciated.


    Thanks in advance
    Hi, my name is Chiara, and I'm an Italian student nurse, and I'm sure I want to work in an Oncologic ward, when I finish University...
    I don't think you need another year of school...You can start working in an onc ward and studing by youself some books about oncology (the best Italian book is " Medic Oncology", by Belladonna: all our oncologists have studied on it)... But on the other way, I think that if you want to know more, that is a really good thing, you can go on study and doing another year.
    Can I ask you a question?: " Why have you decided to work in an Onc ward?
    Is there a particular motivation, a particular event of your life that has lead you in making this decision?"
    I'll really thank you if you answer me!!!!
    Thank in advance, Chiara
  10. by   lonardisilvia
    Quote from bonemarrowrn
    are you thinking of peds or adults? either way, i think you will get two answers on this (yes and no :chuckle ).

    i never did adult, but i assume the concepts are similar to peds. in onc, a lot of the management is focused arodn the side effects of the meds (chemo) and what it does to the pt., esp. the liver and kidneys and heart. there are a lot of lab values to know (you actually need to know them- but of course the norms are always there in the computer), a lot of medication side effects and interaction issues. also recognizing s/s of renal, liver resp failure and the like.

    having said all of that, i think it depends on you. i work in peds onc. some new grads work out, some do not (like in any specialty, i suppose).
    hi, i'm chiara, a student nurse, i'm italian....
    after finished university, i want to go and work in an onc ward...
    tell me: "why have you decided to go and work in such a kind of ward? and then, do you think that every nurse could work in an onc ward, or only the ones who have some specific features, a particular motivation?"
    i'll thank you if you answer me....
    with love, chiara
  11. by   lonardisilvia
    Quote from julieK
    I want to encourage you to go for it. I am a semi-new grad (I worked for 7 months and went out on maternity and am returning in a few weeks) and I started on an onc floor. We did stem cell transplants, lots of chemo, no surgical patients. You learn most stuff you would learn on a med-surg floor and so much more. If the unit is new-grad friendly, you will do great. Beware, b/c there's TONS to know about chemo - I'm not even close to knowing everything, but if you have a good preceptor and good training and the other nurses are supportive enough to help you when you need it, you'll do fine.

    Good luck!

    -Julie
    Hi Julie, I'm Chiara, an Italian student nurse, and I would like to work in an onc ward when I finish University...
    I'd like to ask you: "why have you decided to work in an onc ward? Is there a particular motivation, a particular event that changed your life and lead to this ward?"
    If you could answer me...
    Thank you in advance, Chiara
  12. by   SarasotaRN2b
    Personally, and for myself, I would definitely try to do a year of med-surg first. No matter what I finally decide to go into. But there are many hospitals that have specialized programs for oncology nurses. Just think that if oncology isn't for you, you might have more options.
  13. by   julieK
    Quote from lonardisilvia
    Hi Julie, I'm Chiara, an Italian student nurse, and I would like to work in an onc ward when I finish University...
    I'd like to ask you: "why have you decided to work in an onc ward? Is there a particular motivation, a particular event that changed your life and lead to this ward?"
    If you could answer me...
    Thank you in advance, Chiara
    Hi, Chiara. I'm really sorry I haven't seen this in so many months, but here's the answer:

    There was no particular motivation for me at first to work on an onc floor. I really was just looking for a nice unit to work on at my first job where I would learn a lot and get good experience. I have to say that onc is a good a place as any to do that. I think the most important thing is to join a team where there is a good mix of new and experienced staff. Good luck in your studies!

    -Julie in NYC
  14. by   1styear
    I graduated in May and started working at Sloan Kettering in June(every floor is oncology). I would say that so far I'm very happy with my decision to start my career in oncology. My only advice is to pick a floor that has a lot of surgical patients so you get that exposure. My friend is on a hepato-bil floor and another is on neuro and they really only see late stage med patients which doesn't seem like a great place to start. Gyn or urology usually have a high % of surgical pts in my hospital and it's great experience caring for this more routine population in addition to learning the complexities involved with medical patients. Good luck in your decision.

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