So I'm in my second year of nursing school and we have our med/surg rotation starting in just a few days (monday). For my first rotation I chose the oncology floor and it lasts 6 weeks. Unfortunately, we studied oncology after choosing these spots, and now I've just found out how dangerous chemotherapy drugs can be, as well as the urine and other bodily fluids of the patients receiving them. It's probably too late to change (though I guess I could try, but I have a feeling I'm overreacting and I don't want to switch over an overreaction). I'll admit I might be a bit of a slight hypochondriac when it comes to things like this, especially since in this case I don't feel my studies provided me with enough info to fully understand my risk and how to minimize it. The reason I chose oncology is because I want to work in pediatrics eventually and I've toyed with the idea of working in a pediatric oncology ward. The ward I'm going to is an adult ward, but I wanted to see what type of work it is and how well I can emotionally handle the sadness of it.
Anyway, I know that the danger to nurses should be minimal if all proper safety precautions are followed. The problem is that I've seen nurses not following proper safety precautions in other wards due to lack of time, or maybe just not realizing what they are doing (absently touching their own mouth, a patients arm, then another patient without disinfecting their hands, etc.). Obviously not all nurses do this, but enough to make me nervous. I'm less nervous about administering the drugs as I am about taking care of patients who might possibly have the remnents of cancer-causing drugs in their urine, excriment, sweat, breath, etc.? My book didn't exactly outline how to handle this in very good specifics, so I feel like I'm sort of at the mercy of the nurses I work with in the ward, because if they do something wrong I won't know it's wrong. Can anyone give me some practical information about how every day care of patients should be handled? When I'm doing things like empyting urine into a toilet, flushing it, etc.? Changing sweaty bed sheets? Just being around the patients? And what about drugs that are in tablet form? My book read to "avoid breathing in dust from the tablets." Great, so I just don't breath and I'll be safe? xD
I know I'm probably overreacting, but like I said this kind of came as a surprise because we were scheduled to learn about it just before starting our rotations, and by then we had already chosen our places. Realistically, do I need to be worried about spending just 6 weeks working there? And how often do accidents happen (though in truth I'm more concerned about "accidents" that no one notices because they are in a hurry)? If it's actually a serious risk, I might consider contacting my teacher, but I think it's too late for that and I have a feeling she will think I'm being ridiculous, as many of you probably think reading this.. x) But I have to ask. I just want to go knowing the proper procedures so that I can speak up if I see it done wrong and avoid doing it wrong myself.