Oncology vs. Med-Surg.

  1. hello everyone,

    i'm not sure which one i am really intrested in. i would love to work in both but, could anyone give me an idea of what you do on an oncology floor from day to day?

    thank you in advance for any help!! :heartbeat
  2. Visit havehope profile page

    About havehope, ADN, CNA, RN

    Joined: Oct '10; Posts: 391; Likes: 204
    Registered Nurse; from US
    Specialty: None


  3. by   herowneulogy

    OP, your font color = eye sore, no offense
  4. by   NICURN2013
    I would love to know this too! I'm a student nurse on the Oncology floor this week. It's my first term in clinical.. we don't get any information about our patients before we're there, so I'd love to look things up and get to know some procedures I might be doing.

  5. by   CharmedJ7
    At my hospital Oncology is a Med-Surge specialty floor. One piece of advice/wisdom I always keep in mind with onc is that onc is everything: chemo can cause cardiac issues (as can some cancers like pheochromocytoma), cancers can be anywhere and manifest as complications as just about any system, and cancer hits every type of person and none of their pre-cancer conditions go away.

    The thing is that in addition to the normal med-surge stuff they also might have chemo to deal with with usually requires special certification and training and additional things to look at (WBCs, neutrophils, platelet count) or if it's IP (intraperitoneal chemo) things like turning schedules and precautions with outputs. There's more focus on infection prevention and neutropenic precautions on such floors too b/c with a lot of pts it's not the cancer, it's an infection that kills since the chemo knocks their immune system flat. You may also see more blood clot and PE issues since cancer is a hypercoaguable state. You will probably also see more central lines and port-a-caths.

    There's also an added psychosocial component I think esp with things like pancreatic CA which strike young people and seem really unfair - done so many intake with pts who, when you ask about social habits and medical hx they're like 'no smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no medical hx, always been healthy' and there's just this unspoken (or spoken) thing hanging in the air of "why me?" But then, that also contributes I think to part of the appeal with this population, I think generally onc pts are more grateful on a whole then other populations and a lot of them are really fighters and that can be amazing to see.

    I work in surgical onc and although it's kind of a "specialty" I see my fair share of DKA, COPD, HTN, Gout, PE, Heart failure, Afib, etc. It's not that different from other med-surge floors, I get 4 patients generally (5 if they're being cruel and we're short-staffed), sometimes I have time to look through their chart fully, sometimes not. There's a lot of really fascinating things I see, especially with newly diagnosed pts, to see what they present with, like a pancreatic CA pt coming in as flourescent yellow or a adrenal tumour pt coming in with hirsutism and crazy high BP. It can be really sad and draining because a you see a lot of young and/or terminal people, but I think it's a great area, and I'll even say a good generalist field to start in.
  6. by   nursie_pants
    I work on a medical oncology floor at a large hospital. Our patients are either solid tumor (e.g., lung, breast, pancreatic CA) or hematological (e.g., leukemia, some lymphomas). We don't have GYN-onc on our floor.

    Anyway, patients are generally there either for (a) treatment that requires in-patient status (chemo over several days, or close monitoring), (b) symptom management (pain, nausea/vomiting, fevers), or in some instances (c) previous cancer history and the hospital wasn't sure where else to place them.

    Work load is similar to other med-surg type floors but our patients tend to be a little more critical. After chemo, your blood counts drop and immune system is compromised; many are very susceptible to infection/sepsis. Common transfers to/from ICU. We hang a lot of blood products. Some patients are up ad lib; others are "totals". Age range is around 19 and up. Many patients are repeat visitors. At end-stage of their disease many patients are discharged on hospice and some die on our floor.

    There is a fair amount of variety as far as clinical skills used: around 75% have central lines, some trachs, G tubes, NG tubes, TPN, and chemo (obviously) and the precautions that go along with it.

    Hope this helps and good luck.