Interview for oncology position: Do I disclose that I'm pregnant?

  1. 2
    Hi all!

    I'm quite excited that I'm finally a new grad and am beyond ready to find a nursing job. I got a call from a local hospital to set up an interview for a position on an oncology unit. I'm excited. Oncology has always interested me.

    However, I just found out that I'm pregnant. It was unexpected but we are thrilled nonetheless. Knowing that chemo is harmful to the growing baby, should I be up front with the manager? It is very early on in the pregnancy. I don't want to put myself out of the running but I don't want to waste anyone's time either.

    What do you all think? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Jessica
    Blanca R and Joe V like this.
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  3. 15 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    Not to be rude but I am concerned that your school did not teach you how to use your critical thinking skills. What type of degree did you just get?

    Pursuing this position would be a complete waste of everyone's time. Do you really want to start a new job in an oncology unit, where one of the main functions of your job is to administer chemo medications, by telling everyone "Hey, thanks for the new job but everyone on the floor is going to have to cover for me for the first 9 months because I cannot do my job. Thanks all for making my dream come true".

    Seriously?
    Emilynn09, Aurora77, and mrmedical like this.
  5. 7
    Quote from JustinAllen
    Not to be rude but I am concerned that your school did not teach you how to use your critical thinking skills. What type of degree did you just get?

    Pursuing this position would be a complete waste of everyone's time. Do you really want to start a new job in an oncology unit, where one of the main functions of your job is to administer chemo medications, by telling everyone "Hey, thanks for the new job but everyone on the floor is going to have to cover for me for the first 9 months because I cannot do my job. Thanks all for making my dream come true".

    Seriously?
    :P I feel like this could have been worded in a much nicer fashion.

    However, I do have to agree with the sentiment. I recently accepted a position on an oncology floor and the first thing I thought was that I would need to wait about a year from my start date to begin actively trying for kids. I'm young (24), but my fiance is 29 and we are getting married in September. Before accepting the position, we had planned to start trying for kids in January 2013 because of his age. Now we are probably looking at trying fall of 2013. It was important for me to start my career first, but it's disappointing that I will have to wait longer to be a mother. Life is a series of trade offs.

    In your case, waiting and putting some time in first is not really an option since you're already pregnant. Legally, you do not have to disclose your pregnancy to an employer. However, it would be in your best interest to do so because of the nature of the chemicals you would be expected to be around. I do know of pregnant nurses work on oncology floors, but typically they have been employed for awhile and plan to return after their pregnancy. In those cases the charge nurse simply does not assign them to patients with active chemotherapy or radiation orders. They would be getting the patients who are post-op biopsy or tumor removal or recovering, etc. I am not sure if that would be an option for a brand new nurse without seniority. The only way you could know for sure is to ask.

    My opinion? Go to the interview. Express your interest in oncology. Then explain that while you would love to work in this field, right now you're unsure if it's an option because you're expecting. Ask if there would be a role for you on an oncology floor while being pregnant. Be your charming and knowledgeable self. Then thank your interviewer for the information. It would not hurt to add that you love X Hospital and would be excited to be employed in any department. The interviewer may pass you along to another position within the same healthcare system. Overall, I would go into your interview expecting to be told that your pregnancy is not compatible with the oncology floor and to not get the job. However, your honesty and desire to work could go a long way toward getting you a different position.

    Congratulations and best wishes for your pregnancy!
  6. 9
    Accepting a position knowing your can't fulfill your job duties...
    is unethical.
  7. 5
    Several issues:Technically, per OSHA, if proper precautions are taken AT ALL TIMES, there is nothing to preclude pregnant nurses from taking chemo patients. Having said that, in my experience, very few hospitals provide or teach proper chemo precautions, and many nurses do not follow proper precautions, thus endangering their coworkers.

    Second, patients getting radiation, barring rad implants, orally ingested or IV injected radiation products or actually having radiation in your
    presence, do not pose a danger to pregnant nurses. And those that will be exposed to active radiation byproduct are required to wear badges to assess exposure, and are
    strictly limited - no pregnant nurses permitted. Very, very few oncology nurses work with these pts during the time period that they pose a danger, these PTs are a rarity in
    most facilities.

    Also, in many facilities, new grads do not take chemo classes until 6-12 months of employment, to allow you to become more secure in basic nursing before adding more advanced training.

    Having said that, it is best to let your prospective employer know of any potential limitations of employment. This would hold true for many issues, such as inability to hang blood products, or administer methotrexate to women with ectopic pregnancies. Or they have so many specialized rad PTs/so much chemo, that having a pregnant nurse would not be doable.Yes, technically, you do not have to tell them, but ethically (and for your health and safety) you should. Some employers, to limit liability, do limit care that pregnant nurses provide.

    As a note, there are many drugs and chemicals in hospitals that are quite dangerous to pregnant nurses, and that are NOT CHEMO!!!!! The large number of nurses that I have seen on ICU or MedSurg floors free priming gangcyclovir or walking into RSV rooms while toxic aerosolization is going on, without any protection is shocking. I see Onco nurses often being careful with drugs, that other units handle willynilly.
    Last edit by caroladybelle on Jul 12, '12
    bbuerke, OCNRN63, Sugar Magnolia, and 2 others like this.
  8. 1
    Well first of all CONGRATS on your pregnancy

    I think your best option is to be upfront with your interviewer. It will have to come up eventually if you get the job, I think they would really appreciate your openness!

    Best of luck with your interview and starting your career!
    TexasCourgette likes this.
  9. 2
    Quote from JustinAllen
    Not to be rude but I am concerned that your school did not teach you how to use your critical thinking skills. What type of degree did you just get?

    Pursuing this position would be a complete waste of everyone's time. Do you really want to start a new job in an oncology unit, where one of the main functions of your job is to administer chemo medications, by telling everyone "Hey, thanks for the new job but everyone on the floor is going to have to cover for me for the first 9 months because I cannot do my job. Thanks all for making my dream come true".

    Seriously?
    I would word this more politely, but I too agree with the sentiments.
    DachRN and One1 like this.
  10. 1
    I understand your excitement about the interview and job prospect. But, being a parent myself, I have to say jobs come and go, but the consequences of the decisions you make while pregnant will last a lifetime.

    I personally would err on the side of caution and do everything to protect the new life growing inside you. To everything there is a season, and another opportunity which is a safer fit will come along when the time is right!

    Congrats to you and your husband!
    SwansonRN likes this.
  11. 0
    JessicaKay,

    My apologies for sounding harsh with my answer. I just feel that it would really be a disservice to you, and your new workmates to accept a position without disclosing the fact that you are pregnant. I am also a new grad and am excited to begin my job in a week...I worked long and hard to get to this position, however if I feel that I could not pull my weight 110%, especially as a new grad, then I would not have accepted that position.

    Like others, I also feel that you should go to the interview and talk with the hiring manager about being pregnant...at the worst it's great experience, and at the best you have an opportunity to stay in contact with the manager if you do not get the position right away.

    Congratulations and good luck....keep us updated.
  12. 1
    If you do choose to interview, I would ask questions related to chemotherapy handling and how much exposure you have. At my hospital, the pt's RN (me) doesn't hang chemo at all - we have a chemo nurse who does that. However, there are occasionally chemo spills and chemo in body excretions. Some say that if you follow all of the precautions, pregnant women can work in Oncology.. but that's something that you have to ask yourself as well.
    mappers likes this.


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